Right here, right Nawr. Welsh culture publishers reframe Wales and Welshness
28 September 2022
A group of Cardiff University graduates are walking their own path in publishing to move away from prevailing stereotypes on Wales and the Welsh.
Currently on its eighth edition, Nawr (which translates as Now in Welsh) is an online magazine focussed on Welsh art, literature and philosophy which was founded in 2020. The magazine is the creation of English Literature graduates Martha O'Brien and Anna Bland who, following the completion of their courses, realised they all shared the same thoughts on publishing in Wales.
Martha, co-editor explained, “There were few grassroots and experimental places for Welsh artists and writers to publish their work, and we felt like funding or getting published in Wales depended on feeding into Welsh stereotypes. You’d have to stick Welsh ladies or sheep into your work for somebody to call it “Welsh”. We wanted something that reflected the now of it all: a publication that reflects Wales because it is from Wales, not because it perpetuates notions of what we already perceive Welshness to be.”
Nawr is a constantly evolving project and since its beginnings, Martha and Anna have been joined by fellow English Literature graduate Millie Bethel and Journalism, Media and Sociology graduate Anja Quinn. The magazine is ultimately community focused and is a space to bring people together, both by publishing articles on diverse topics and talking points and in hosting online and in-person events. Nawr are also keen to take the magazine outside Wales to showcase the literature, art and photography taking place here to non-Welsh audiences.
As Anna co-editor explains, “Welsh art and writing shouldn’t just be enjoyed by a Welsh audience: there is so much that studying, reading about, and enjoying Welsh literature, art and photography can do for people outside of Wales. That’s why Raymond Williams is one of our biggest inspirations: he writes about Wales so honestly and perceptively, but also connects those Welsh issues to bigger and broader ones. He’s a writer of Wales, he’s a writer from Wales, but he’s regarded as so much more than that without losing that Welsh identity. We want to see that shift to elevate Wales on a global stage. That’s a lifelong dream for the whole arts scene of Wales!”
Nawr recently held their first festival over the summer, taking over an empty retail space in Cardiff’s city centre for a weeklong curated experience of interactive events, workshops and talks, taking place to bring together the Welsh art scene following Covid related lockdowns and isolation. Following its success, the team are now working on issue 9 of the magazine and are thankful of the skills they developed while at university.
“Our English Literature degrees have definitely equipped us with the confidence to take on the mammoth task of editing! It’s never easy deciding what should or shouldn’t go in the magazine, but it’s a good feeling to know that we know what we’re doing and have spent years honing our craft as writers and editors to do this job.”
More information on past and future editions of Nawr together with news on events can be found on the magazine’s website.