Friday, August 19, 2011

New Welsh Review

Wales’s leading literary magazine the New Welsh Review has a new editor, Gwen Davies. It’s always interesting to observe subtle shifts in emphases and direction whenever a new hand takes the helm of an established journal. Having just read the latest issue of NWR I have to say I’m vibed.

In the past I think NWR has been overly preoccupied with being seen to be ‘intelligent’ whilst quite often forgetting to be ‘entertaining’. This attitude was probably born out of a perfectly understandable editorial desire for Welsh literature to be taken seriously. All too often, however, pomposity has prevailed.

There’s certainly nothing pompous about the current issue of NWR, nor is there any skimping on intellect. I detect, though, a more relaxed tone along with a broader and more adventurous interpretation of what constitutes Welsh literary culture.

The magazine opens with an interesting article by Tyler Keevil on soundtracks in coming-of-age films; and is immediately followed by Liz Jones’s analysis of Richard Ayoade’s debut flick, Submarine. There are short stories by Cynan Jones; Richard Gwyn’s piece on Michel de Montaigne is compelling; and there are high quality book reviews.

There’s poetry, too, if that’s your bag. I find most contemporary Welsh poetry to be as relevant to modern life as, say, bell-ringing, so I just tend to read the bits where they have their epiphanies. You, however, might be a poetry connoisseur in which case fill your boots.

Gwen Davies has also upped the digital ante. The NWR website now carries additional content that doesn’t appear in the magazine. This includes interviews, reviews, and contributions from guest bloggers. So, if you fancy yourself as a bit of a culture vulture, why not give the revamped NWR a blast.