Literature Across Frontiers is proud to announce that the Ulysses Shelter exchange residencies for writers between Wales and Europe are well underway as this month sees Esyllt Angharad Lewis travel to Valetta in Malta, the arrival in Caernarfon of Marek Torčík and Ajda Bračič from the Czech Republic and Slovenia, followed by the open call for the next round of residencies.
Ulysses’ Shelter is a cooperation project co-funded by the European Union aiming to build a network of exchange literary residencies across Europe designed for emerging writers and literary translators. Launched in 2016 with three partners, it now includes eight countries: Croatia, Czech Republic, Greece, Malta, Serbia, Slovenia, Spain (Mallorca) and Wales, UK.
Following the previous edition of the programme, which was partly disrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic, an anthology of English translations of poems, stories and essays from the project was published which offers a snapshot of the preoccupations shared by the 30 writers who took part. Ulysses’ Cat was published by Parthian Press in 2022 and includes work by six writers from Wales, Eluned Gramich, Steven Hitchins, Grug Muse, Morgan Owen, Lloyd Markham and Rebecca Thomas who either travelled to Europe or had digital residencies during the programme.
Morgan Owen said of his residency on the Croatian island of Mljet, “I wrote a lot there, and was fascinated a hundred times, but the experience and atmosphere has stayed with me, giving my writing a certain energy. Programmes and projects like these by LAF are indispensable to literature.”
Following last year’s open call, two Welsh writers, Esyllt Angharad Lewis and Ruqaya Izzidien, were selected to take part and both chose Malta as their residency location. Esyllt, a multi-genre artist who lives in Cardiff, considered the parallels between Wales and Malta as postcolonial bilingual countries during her two-week stay in Valletta, while translating a booklet, A Manifesto for Ultratranslation, into Welsh.
“Being able to come to Malta is a very special experience, having never been here before, nor on a residency abroad,” said Esyllt. “I met many interesting and kind individuals and I feel very lucky to know that this residency will have an influence on my writing, translation and art for years to come. I’m incredibly thankful for the opportunity.”
By happy coincidence another Welsh writer, Cameroon born Eric Ngalle Charles, was in Valetta at the same time, a legacy of the long-standing partnership between Literature Across Frontiers and the Maltese cultural organization Inizjamed which hosts the Malta residency.
“We are cultural ambassadors,” said Eric. “I’m glad to be here, running writing workshops and long may this work continue between Literature Across Frontiers, Inizjamed, and Malta Arts Council.”
Looking ahead, Literature Across Frontiers is excited to welcome Marek Torčík from the Czech Republic and Ajda Bračič from Slovenia to Caernarfon for their two-week Ulysses Shelter residency on 11 May. They will have the opportunity to meet Welsh writers, participate in literary events and explore the rich literary heritage of Wales.
The open call for the next set of residencies will be announced on May 17th and will include the opportunity for emerging Welsh screenwriters to apply for a residency in Mallorca in October 2023.
According to Alexandra Büchler, the director of Literature Across Frontiers, “The Ulysses Shelter project is an excellent opportunity to bring together writers from different cultures and literary traditions and explore how they can enrich each other’s work. We are delighted to be working with such a talented and diverse group of writers and look forward to the collaborations and conversations that will emerge from this project.”