At the moment, there are five members of the panel.
I’m Fiona and I love telling, listening to and learning from traditional stories.
I grew up in Hampshire, and lived on Anglesey as a young woman. My son was born there. Then I went to London to train as a teacher, meaning to return once I qualified, but ended up staying in London until 2000.
I started storytelling by improvising stories from listeners’ suggestions. This was ridiculously stressful, and I could always see where the ideas for the story had come from: other stories, films, books ….. none of them were ‘original’. I love Arthur Koestler’s definition of creativity: bringing together previously unrelated frames of thought – which already exist – rather than producing something from nowhere.
When I ‘discovered’ traditional spoken word storytelling at the end of the 1980s, I wondered: Why was I making up stories, when all these amazing stories already existed, shaped and polished by hundreds of storytellers over hundreds of years?
Since then I haven’t looked back, and when I returned to Wales in 2000, I found that telling stories of Wales helps me know the landscape in a truly meaningful way. I have worked (for years!!) to be able to tell in Welsh, and though I don’t have the rich vocabulary in Welsh that I do in English, I discover more about the stories, the land and the people, through hearing and telling tales in Welsh.
I am passionate about using traditional tales to support Welsh learners. I am also passionate about supporting the storytellers of Wales, which is why I am proud to be part of Chwedl. I think my friend Esyllt Harker, in whose memory the Gwobr Esyllt Prize is awarded, would be glad of what is being done in her name.
Fiona ydw i, ac rydwi’n dwlu ar adrodd a gwrando ar chwedlau,a dysgu oddiwrthyn nhw.
Ces i fy magu yn Hampshire, a bues i’n byw yn fenyw ifanc ar Ynys Mon, ble cafodd fy mab ei eni.
Wedyn es i Lundain i hyfforddi fel athrawes, gyda’r bwriad o ddod yn ôl wedi cwblhau’r cwrs, ond o’r ddiwedd, arhosais yn Lundain tan 2000.
Dechreuais chwedleua trwy fyrfyfyrio straeon, gan ddefnyddio awgrymiadau’r gynulleidfa. Roedd yn straen ofnadwy, ac ron i’n gallu gweld bob tro o ble daeth syniadau’r stori: straeon eraill, ffilmiau, llyfrau … doedd ddim un ohonyn nhw yn ‘wreiddiol’. Rydw i’n hoffi diffiniad Arthur Koestler o greadigrwydd: dod â fframweithiau meddwl ynghŷd nad oeddent yn perthyn yn gynt – ond sydd yn bodoli yn barod – yn hytrach na chynhyrchu rhywbeth o nunlle.
Pan wnes i ‘ddarganfod’ chwedleua traddodiadol ar lafar, ar ddiwedd y 1980au, dyma fi’n rhyfeddu: Pam creu straeon, pan fo’r straeon anhygoel hynny yn bodoli yn barod, wedi’u siapio a’u gloywi gan gannoedd o chwedleuwyr dros gannoedd o flynyddoedd?
Ers hynny, dydw i ddim wedi edrych yn ôl, a phan wnes i ddychwelyd i Gymru yn 2000, deallais fod adrodd chwedlau o Gymru yn fy helpu i adnabod y dirwedd mewn ffordd ystyrlon iawn. Rydw i wedi gweithio (am flynyddoedd!) i allu adrodd yn y Gymraeg, ac, er nad oes gen i’r un eirfa gyfoethog a sy gen i yn Saesneg, dwi’n darganfod mwy am y chwedlau, y wlad a’r bobl, trwy wrando ar ac adrodd chwedlau yn Gymraeg.
Rydw i’n angerddol am werth chwedlau i gefnogi ddysgwyr yr iaith. Rydw i hefyd yn angerddol am gefnogi chwedleuwyr Cymru, a dyma pam rydw i’n falch i fod yn ran o Chwedl. Enwyd Gwobr Esyllt Prize er anrhydedd fy nghyfailles Esyllt Harker, ac rwy’n credu y byddai hi’n falch o’r hyn sy’n cael ei wneud yn ei henw hi.
I have been working as a wordsmith – crafting words for speaking, mostly, in live or broadcast form – since 1980. For the first dozen years of professional life and for the last dozen I have performed some of my own words, in the years in between others performed my words in a variety of media, but I did not. So I experience the stories I make now as having passed over a bridge from those told by a woman in her twenties and early thirties to those told by one in her fifties, sixties and maybe beyond.
In the time that I was not speaking my stories myself, somewhere within I held the tune, a deep hum; I brought up my children, taught sometimes, facilitated events and so on. Some of the threads of my preoccupations run continuously across that bridge, emerging from further back than I can remember and seeming to run ahead into the distance, beyond my sight. They are the usual-unusual stories of belonging and apartness, of women’s work and words, of discovery and
creation from which I feel I / we are woven into life. I continue to listen for the call of stories to be spoken and I try to call my responses, boldly and engagingly.
Throughout this process I am aware that I am in an ongoing conversation with my ancestors and those to whom I may be an ancestor. With each passing day I feel this wordsmithing, storyweaving calling to be in essence an act of remembrance, service and love. It’s sacred and uproarious, lighthearted, laughing, and dense as a collapsed star.
Bûm yn nyddu a gweunyddu geiriau i’w llefaru – yn fyw neu mewn darllediaders 1980. Am ddwsin o flynyddoedd ar ddechrau fy ngyrfa proffesiynol ac am y dwsin diweddaraf bûm yn perfformio fy ngeiriau fy hunan. Dros y blynyddoedd rhwng y ddau gyfnod bu eraill yn perfformio fy ngeiriau ond nid myfi. Felly yn fy nhŷb i mae’r straeon rwy’n eu gweu heddiw fel petaent wedi croesi pont; ar un lan mae straeon menyw yn ei hugeiniau, ar y lan arall y rhai a lefarwyd gan un yn ei phumdegau, chwedegau a thu hwnt, hwyrach. Yn ystod y cyfnod pan nad oeddwn i’n adrodd fy straeon fy hunan, rhywle y tu fewn yr oedd y dôn yn parhau, rhyw si dwfn. Bûm yn codi teulu, dysgu a darlithio weithiau, hwyluso a hyrwyddo gweithdai ac ati. Mae ambell i linyn yn rhedeg yn barhaus dros y bont honno, gan ymddangos o rywle tu hwnt i’m hatgofion ac yn rhedeg yn eu blaen, draw dros y gorwel. Dyma straeon arferol-anarferol perthyn ac arwahander, straeon gwaith a geiriau gwragedd, straeon darganfod a chreu, sydd yn fy nhŷb i yn ein cydblethu ni yn yr holl fusnes o fyw a bod. Rwy’n parhau i wrando am alwad straeon i’w hadrodd ac rwyf yn ymdrechu i alw nôl yn hy mewn ymateb. Trwy gydol y broses rwyf yn ymwybodol fy mod i mewn trafodaeth gyda’r hynafiaid a’r sawl y byddaf yn hynafiad iddyn nhw. Rwy’n teimlo fod yr alwad hon, y gweu a nyddu straeon, yn y bôn yn wasanaeth, yn goffadwriaeth, gweithred cariad… yn gysegredig ac yn wyllt, yn ysgafn-galon a mor ddwys â seren wedi mewnffrwydro.
“Mesmerising mythic stories from a wonderful Welsh storyteller”
Cardiff Storyteller and Singer Cath Little has “rough magic” in her voice, and in her words “the gift of the story comes through.” She has a strong belief in the power of stories to connect us to one another, to the land, and to the people who once lived here. She tells traditional stories from her Irish English heritage and her Welsh homeland. Cath is passionate about re-imagining and sharing the ancient British wonder tales of The Mabinogion.
Cath helps run the Cardiff Storytelling Circle and curates their seasonal concerts, Tales for the Turning Year. She tells and listens to stories at Oasis, a Cardiff Charity which offers a warm Welsh welcome to refugees and asylum seekers. Cath keeps busy sharing stories in schools, libraries, museums, castles, cafes and fields. She has performed at festivals across Britain and Ireland and is the author of Glamorgan Folk Tales for Children.
I have met them, on many a long journey, throughout a long apprenticeship to learn my skill … I have met them, and recognised my family. Poetry, mythology, they’re living still.“Dragons”, on “Spreading Rings”
My song “Dragons”, inspired by the Earthsea books of Ursula K Le Guin. The dragon, as keeper of the lore and singer of strange, mysterious songs. The pile of treasure, which I always saw as heaps of books. Stories, whether they come as books, or songs, or images, or via oral transmission, are an essential part of being human, as well as dragon. Tolkien, in one of his essays, says that there have been many civilisations which did not invent the wheel, but none which did not have stories. This is why Chwedl is a network dear to my heart.
I have been telling stories all my life, sometimes in the privacy of my room and sometimes to audiences. I’ve written some of them in the form of songs, which is the homeopathic version, far more condensed and (I hope) powerful. Some I’m working with now are finding their way into a longer novel. I’ve worked with children of all ages, and with adults in refuges, in prisons and in happier circumstances, prompting them to tell stories as well. In recent years I’ve concentrated on a 13th century Occitan tale for my PhD research, telling that to medievalists and Arthurians as well as all kinds of other audiences. My family moved to Cardiff when I was 10 – such a gift to someone obsessed by music and stories – and although I went to university (Warwick), and then to London, and then to France, and then back to London again, I came back home to Wales in 2002. And here I intend to stay, high in the hills in Blaenavon.
Cardiff has been my home for twelve years (and a few more odd ones besides), and I grew up near Wrexham in North Wales, having moved west from South Yorkshire as a child. I’ve also lived in Caernarfon and Cambridge, and in Moscow, Italy and Lesotho.
I have always been drawn to stories, for so many different reasons. They are spaces that brim with both surprise and familiarity, and places from which we can see the world anew – and which remind us of things we may have forgotten. They are full of threads that link us to each other, to the land and to shadowy half-thoughts that we need to take time to listen to and understand.
In my own practice, I’m interested in really listening to and working with a story to hear and share what it has to say about the world as it is, here and now.
I got involved with Chwedl because the support, inspiration and encouragement of other women has been key for me in my storytelling journey. I wanted to help build a network of women from across Wales who would support each other in discovering and developing their own creativity. I’m always inspired at Chwedl events and gatherings by the richness and variety of the work that women are doing in the world of story in Wales, and I’m particularly excited when I see women who are finding their own unique voices as storytellers.
Alongside storytelling, I’m a campaigner, a charity leader, a Welsh European and an aunti