We Are Welsh Culture

From Planet 250

by Darren Chetty

In a piece adapted from a keynote presentation for the Arts Council of Wales event ‘Imagining our Future’, Darren Chetty relives a year in the life of Welsh (Plural) – a game-changing essay collection, reflecting more widely on culture, football and discrimination.

Welsh (Plural), the book I co-edited with Grug Muse, Hanan Issa and Iestyn Tyne was published March 8th 2022. The Editors’ introduction begins with a quote:

‘Wales is a singular noun but a plural experience.’
-Dai Smith, Wales! Wales?, 1984

The first time I met with Tariq Godard, publisher of Repeater Books, he asked me about my connection with Wales. I spoke for a few minutes about my family background spanning three continents and how I was the first person in my family to be born in Wales. ‘You’re exactly the right person for this project – you chose Welshness’ was Tariq’s response. I remember wondering if the readers of the book would agree. My knowledge of Wales, and of Welshness is partial; but then who can say otherwise of themselves? And should we believe them? I know I couldn’t have edited this book on my own; and Grug, Hanan and Iestyn have told me that that they couldn’t have either. Our little editing team contained a plurality of language, gender, ethnicity, age, religious and social class background and place of residence. We were careful not to suggest that Welsh (Plural) was intended to speak to all of the experiences of Welshness; rather, we saw it as an attempt to prise open publishing opportunities (and perhaps a few minds). We asked our contributors, ‘can you imagine Welshness as both distinct and inclusive?’, ‘a proper question at its heart’ as Jon Gower would later comment of the book, and one that lurks beneath so much political and cultural debate. Of course, it is a question that has relevance for any contemporary democratic nation, but has an added urgency given the fragile nature of nationhood in Wales.

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About the author

Darren Chetty co-edited Welsh (Plural) and is a columnist for Books for Keeps. He teaches at University College London.