Nerys Williams to undertake literary residency in Brussels in May

30 / 03 / 2017

Literature Wales is delighted to announce Nerys Williams as the writer who will undertake a literary residency in Brussels this May.

The residency forms part of Barddoniaeth Colled | Poetry of Loss, a wider project commemorating the First World War. Poetry of Loss has a specific focus on Hedd Wyn, who was killed on the battlefields of Flanders, near Ypres, on 31 July 1917. The project is delivered by Literature Wales in partnership with the Welsh Government’s Cymru’n Cofio Wales Remembers 1914-1918 First World War Centenary Programme and the Government of Flanders.

Originally from Carmarthenshire, Nerys is an Associate Professor in American Literature at University College Dublin and a Fulbright alumnus. She has written extensively on contemporary poetry and her collection, Sound Archive (Seren, 2011) won the Irish ‘Strong’ first volume prize (2012), and was nominated for a Forward first volume prize. Nerys is the current holder of the Poetry Ireland Ted McNulty single poem prize. Her recently published articles and chapters examine how contemporary American poetry represents the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars; the poetry of post devolutionary Wales and its relationship to a culture of militarism. She lives in Kells Co. Meath with her husband and daughter.

Describing her vision for the residency, Nerys said: “My focus during the residency is to complete a long poem ‘Pontio’ (Bridging) that centres on an imagined meeting between Welsh poet Hedd Wyn and Irish poet Francis Ledwidge. Both died at Pilckem Ridge on 31st July 1917. The complexity of their situations– one as Welsh speaking conscript and the other opting to fight for Britain at a time when Ireland was seeking independence – prompts relevant questions regarding: nationalism, Europeanism, linguistic inventiveness, as well as the challenge of modernity upon traditional verse forms. The poem asks whether a culture of militarism has grown in post devolutionary Wales and how do I, as a female, bilingual, non-combatant poet, engage with a history of warfare? It will also enable me to dedicate time to writing two proposed radio projects and visit the area surrounding Artillery Wood, where both Hedd Wyn and Francis Ledwidge are buried.”

Passa Porta (, the International House of Literature in Brussels, will be the main base for the residency. Passa Porta is located in the heart of Brussels, and offers a unique working and meeting place for authors, readers, translators and literary mediators from across the world.

Residency Dates: Monday 8 – Sunday 28 May 2017

To find out more about the wider Barddoniaeth Colled | Poetry of Loss project, click here.