Seren’s Authors

Information on all Seren’s authors.
Barbara Bentley lives with her family in Croft, Warrington. Her prize-winning poetry has been published in a number of journals and anthologies. She completed an M.A. in Creative Writing at the University of Glamorgan before publishing her first collection of poetry, Living Next to Leda (1996),...
Barbara Dennis was Head of Victorian Studies and Senior Lecturer at the University of Wales in Lampeter for many years. She had written widely on Victorian novelists, in particular Charlotte Yonge. In 1996, Seren published Dennis's illuminating account of the life of Victorian poet Elizabeth...
Barbara Hardy (1924-2016) was an internationally renowned academic, and was especially known for her extensive work on nineteenth-century authors, including George Eliot, Dickens, Thackeray and Austen. In addition to her critical work, Hardy also undertook creative writing, including poetry and...
Born in Sussex in 1987, Barney Norris, an award-winning playwright, poet and essayist, grew up in Salisbury. He achieved a BA from Keble College, Oxford and an MA from Royal Holloway, University of London. After university, he founded the touring theatre company Up in Arms with Alice Hamilton. His...
Barry Needle was born in Port Talbot, south Wales. He has worked in a steelworks and in parcel distribution, and now lives in Llanelli. Once a motorcycle racer, he spends his spare time expanding his portfolio of photographs of the south Wales landscape. The River Wye is his first book.
Barry Plummer is an independent researcher of Welsh art. He was awarded a doctorate in 2006 from the University of Wales for his thesis on the life and work of Evan Walters.He has a degree in Visual Art and studied the history of art as a post- graduate at the Courtauld Institute. Between 1999 and...
Ben Wilkinson was born in Staffordshire and now lives in Sheffield, South Yorkshire. In 2014 he won the Poetry Business Competition and a Northern Writers’ Award, and in 2015 he was awarded a writers’ grant from Arts Council England. He is a keen distance runner, lifelong Liverpool FC fan, and he...
Bethany W Pope is an LBA winning author, and a finalist for the Faulkner-Wisdom Awards, the Cinnamon Press Novel competition, and the Ink, Sweat and Tears poetry commission, with many other prize listings for prose and poetry. She received her PhD from Aberystwyth University’s Creative Writing...
Painter and writer Brenda Chamberlain ( 1912-1971) lived on the island of Bardsey from 1947-1961, during the last days of its hardy community. The combination of Bardsey, site of ancient Christian pilgrimage, wild and dangerous landscape, and Chamberlain, Royal Academy trained artist, resulted in a...
Bruce Cardwell's two photographic collections have both been published by Seren. Noteworthy: Images of Welsh Music and Hoofpicks: Photographs of the Horse in Wales. Bruce Cardwell is a practising folk musician, playing flute, Cittern, Guitar, Whistle, Uilleann Pipes and Northumbrian Smallpipes. He...

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Review from The Sunday Times

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“Like the city he grew up in, Liam Carson’s memoir of life in Belfast winds like a tangled web of streets, dreams, cultures and philosophies, where every page, pavement and street corner offer another dab of colour to a fascinating picture… Carson’s natural push against his parents in the 1970s coincided with the devastating change in Belfast’s complexion. Its nascent punk scene offered a soundtrack to life in a war zone. While Carson read new-wave science fiction and moved to London, his mother, Mary, drifted away from a language partly hijacked by republican violence. His father, though, retreated to his books. It seems he was living, writes Carson, ‘just off reality.’

“In time, the detached universe William created offered his son profound truths that defined the rest of his life. His father often spoke of tearmann—the idea of the Irish language as sanctuary where the language’s power to shape culture could be celebrated and explored. It is a daunting idea, but Carson handles his journey to accepting the ideas with great skill, successfully conveying the concept of the Irish language as a living, breathing organism without alienating the simplest, most compelling episodes of family life that make this book so moving in parts.

“His description of his mother’s Alzheimer’s disease and eventual death are blessed with clarity, gentleness and a heart-wrenching sadness. His memories of shared moments with his father are beautifully rendered… Carson’s greatest achievement is recycling a complex mix of emotions and ideas on language into a deeply moving read.”

Michael Foley, The Sunday Times

04/07/2012 - 15:28
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Review from The Sunday Telegraph

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"A tender, contemplative memoir examining Carson's upbringing in a happy but complex Irish-speaking household during the Troubles; it eulogises not only his parents but the Irish language itself"

The Sunday Telegraph 2012

17/12/2012 - 10:43
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Call Mother a Lonely Field New Welsh Review

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"Amy Mc Cauley discovers language is sanctuary in this memoir nominated for the Ondaaje Prize"

Liam Carson’s Call Mother a Lonely Field is a memoir of a very strange kind. Although it features some of the standard characteristics of memoir: family narrative, the odd humorous anecdote, photographs, etc, the book is much more than the sum of its parts, chiefly because Carson turns the usual chronological format inside out. Time here is fluid; like memory, it doesn’t simply represent the accumulation of events in a sequential manner. Carson instead puts forward an alternative view – one popularised by JW Dunne - which argues that ‘all time is eternally present. In other words, the past, present and future coexist.’ Carson goes on to suggest that ‘we exist on two levels, both inside and outside time.’ This idea is absolutely central: it relates not simply to the philosophical atmosphere but to the structure of the text, which embodies the very concept it proposes.
The book is also about our experience of identity. Carson comes across as a protean character – a man who reads, dreams and wanders. At various stages of his life he adopts different selves, each of which he rejects. But his relationship to these selves is alive with the spirit of enquiry. Carson is careful to resist the monomania of autobiography, however. This is firstly (and most importantly) a paean to his parents, and secondly a love letter to the Irish language.
Carson, who was born in 1962 in Mooreland, part of the Falls area of Belfast, writes lyrically about his parents, ‘the Ma’ and ‘the Da’. He says:

My parents were Falls people, with all that they entailed. Catholic people. Nationalist people. They belonged to a particular world with particular values […] In the ritual of the mass they were bound to their neighbours, to the world, to God. In the incense, the statues, the Stations of the Cross, the rosary, the stained glass, the Latin, they reaches a from of communion and community that held up their daily lives.

He goes on to say that ‘One afternoon [my Da] told me if he’d been in Iran, he would have been a devout Muslim. Perhaps it was not so important to be Catholic as it was to believe.’
‘The Da’, for me, is the most fascinating character. His singular strength is underlined by a story Carson hears only after his father’s death. When the Da joins the IRA in the 1940s, he soon realises he will have to kill. Unable to square this with his strong Christian faith, the Da leaves, only to find himself arrested and jailed. When he is released from prison he returns to work (as a postman) he finds his pay has been docked for his time spent inside. Carson writes, ‘He took a court case, logically arguing that since his employer and his gaoler were one and the same – the Royal Mail and His Majesty’s Prison Service, in other words, the King - then it followed what his employer was the cause of his absence.’ The Da wins the case and sets a legal precedent.
Call Mother a Lonely Field is full of these unrecorded, ‘unofficial’ histories. Personal family mythologies – songs, stories, poems and dreams – stand shoulder to shoulder with violent reality of Belfast’s ‘Troubles’ from the 1970s onwards. Structurally. I is like a home, each chapter is a different room witits own distinctive atmosphere and pressure, while the presence of dreams is a brave and valuable addition. They represent the hidden strand – the inner supports – of a person’s experience, and it is Carson’s unification of physical, human, linguistic and psychic geographies which make this a real stand-out read. If I had to pick a weakness I would say the ‘Aladdin’s Cave’ section of the book (detailing Carson’s love of comic books) felt slightly out of place, but otherwise I found it quite gripping. Most powerful for me was Carson’s suggestion that language is an environment we inhabit - a sanctuary which can be used to represent the various visible and invisible environments we occupy both physically and in our imaginary lives. The hidden places of memory, childhood, identity and dreams therefore become achievement is the meshing of the public and private worlds so often kept separate by the official records of history.

Amy McCauley for New Welsh Review

04/09/2013 - 11:45
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