We are now in our third year and sometimes people ask “why literature?”. Good question but it goes to the root of what the festival is all about. Back in 2014 Under Milk Wood was filmed in Solva. The whole village became involved in this enterprise and The Ship rocked to the wrap party. A few people decided that the village had had such fun that it was worth replicating — but with what? No other film opportunities were in the offing so why not ….what? Then the idea of a festival came up.
But you need a field. You need tents. You need a big stage for bands playing in the open air. There were lots of false starts, venues came and went before the local football club helped out. Keith Allen’s tent hove into view as a venue but then receded as we discovered we needed a ten tonne trailer to get it. We wanted to show the film outdoors but that proved impossible and, as the weekend turned out to be the only monsoon weekend we’ve had in Solva before or since, a wise development.
The film version of the Dylan Thomas play was definitely edgy so that edginess became a theme for the festival. We have the most challenging open water swim in the UK, nobody else swims out to sea, most big swims go parallel to the shore; we have local chefs and fishermen demonstrating how to prepare and cook local sea food and last year we had a cooking with bugs demo — let’s face it, we’ll all be eating ants and locusts soon. The football tournament saw a barefoot team through to the final last year.
And then, to a relatively small, quiet audience, we have the best writers Wales has produced. Jon Gower took us on a literary trip around the coast of Wales, relentlessly pursuing his theme of writers on the edge; we have had Rhian Edwards take us to the emotional edge and John Harrison enabled us to skirt the Andes and clamber over Mexico. So that’s why we have writers, there will be 50 in the attentive audience compared with the 500 plus dancing in front of the stage, but that’s where the idea come from — the literature of the greatest romantic poet the twentieth century poet produced. Dylan Thomas. He once drank in The Ship. Come to Solva in 2017 and drink in the extraordinary landscape, the music, poetry, food. You will not forget it.