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
Pamela Petro is an author, artist, and educator who lives in the US and dreams of Wales. The Long Field will be her fourth book of creative nonfiction; Travels in an Old Tongue was her first. She is the co-Director of The Dylan Thomas Summer School in Creative Writing, based at the University of Wales, Trinity St David, of which she is a Fellow.