Discovering Queer Hiraeth

From Planet 240

by Pamela Petro

In an edited extract from The Long Field ‒ A Memoir, Wales, and the Presence of Absence, published in Spring 2021 by Little Toller Books, Pamela Petro takes a new angle on hiraeth, recalling the time she spent house-sitting thousands of miles from home, living openly with her partner for the first time while learning Welsh

I started to learn Welsh in something like earnest several years before I signed up for ‘Boot Camp’ – otherwise known as the Wlpan Course, taught over two excruciating months in 1992 on the University of Wales campus in Lampeter. Something stupid I’d said when I was a student there in the early ’80s was still hounding me, driving me to study mutations and conjugating prepositions.

One day at the Cwmanne Tavern someone had mentioned a fair coming up in a place called ‘Llanbedr Pont Steffan’. ‘Oh, where’s that?’ I’d asked innocently. Something about the name caught me. Hearing it felt like tripping over a shadow. Everyone had roared with laughter. It was Lampeter, of course. We were just over the town line in the next village. I was embarrassed to my very bones.

Sign in to read more
Subscribe here