2022 – A bilingual poetry book on the A470 makes Wales’ hearts beat faster | Wales

It is variously described as a snake, a cloud, a stripe, a scar or a Welsh version of Route 66. Memories, legends, moments of love and sadness are woven into a collection of poems that celebrate an unusual theme – the A470 that connects North and South Wales.

While the subject matter may seem unpromising, the collection A470: Poems for the Road / Cerddi’r Ffordd has proven popular with critics and readers alike and has been reprinted twice since its publication on Saint David’s Day in March.

Sian Nordy, who co-edited the volume, had the idea of ​​asking people to write a poem – in Welsh or English – about the road, which runs for 186 miles from Cardiff in the south to Llandudno in the north, and passes through towns. villages, mountains and valleys.

The selected poems have been translated and printed side by side in both languages. Hundreds of people sent contributions – about a third in Welsh – to the publisher, Arachne Press, and 51 were selected.

Northey said the A470 was a good subject because most Welsh people had an opinion – good or bad – about the road. “People who travel to it regularly tend to swear, while those who use it often have more tender feelings,” she said.

Her own poem, Rhyw Bedair Awr (about four hours), suggests that the road – with “all the curves/the occasional red kite” – transforms the traveler into a different person.

Northey said it was important for the book to be bilingual. “There is a tendency to divide the literary scene in Wales between Welsh and English. It is nice to have them combined.”

Editors and publishers were pleased with the variety of poems. There are many descriptions of mountains and rivers, references to the coast, quarries, birds of prey, and fighter planes. A poem reminiscent of how children used to club a school principal in Wales.

Tributes will be paid to Builth Wells’ Little Chef, the Llandudno goat who took charge during the first shutdown – and at one called Llawlyfr Mam i Pit Stops Cymru (Mam’s Guide to Welsh Pit Stops) – the best toilet break spots.

Stephen Payne, poet and academic, gave a poem about the museum in Pontypride, just a few meters down the road. For him, the road means trips to the Brecon Beacons and Hay Festival, a feeling of escape. It traveled through a “remarkably unpolluted” country, he said, linking north and south in a way that a grueling rail journey could not. “It’s a good picture of Wales’ unity,” he said.

Fittingly, the volume was in motion, with poets reading their works across the country, including the prestigious National Library of Wales in Aberystwyth.

Storyville Books in Pontypridd read some poems that Jeff Baxter, one of the store’s owners, said clearly captured the imagination. “The event was very interesting, with clear emotional weight and real flow between the poets and the audience, especially through the natural transition between English and Welsh, the two languages ​​of Wales.

“Everyone who has lived along the road has vivid memories and feelings associated with the road. For example, if you live near valleys in South Wales you can almost always hear the road in the background, it is always there. For me personally, that means when I turn off M4 on the A470, I’m almost at home.”