Adventures with Ideas
The Conference was held from Friday 16 to Sunday 18 August 2019 at the Hand Hotel, Llangollen
This year we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Powys Society. It is fitting that, in this anniversary year, we return to a favourite and, by now familiar, venue, the Hand Hotel, in Llangollen, surrounded by the sacred water of the river Dee and the craggy ruins of Castell the Dinas Bran. For the adventurous there are plenty of places, further afield, worth exploring such as Valle Crucis, the steep sided valley of Edeyrnion, Glyndyfrdwy, Corwen and Caer Drewyn, Llangar church, Rug chapel, Chirk castle, and Thomas Telford’s Grade 1 listed aqueduct (now a world heritage site) with its startling vertiginous views of Afon Dyfrdwy and the Dee valley far below. Nearby Llantysilio mountain, the Berwyns and Clwydian range provide exciting opportunities for walks on lofty hilltops, amidst purple heather moorland from where you may, if lucky, spot merlins, and golden plovers. Here there are also rocky limestone outcrops, ancient woodlands and forests where elm, hazel, and oak grow thickly and where there are wild plants such as rockrose, thyme and St John’s Wort.
Other adventures, of the mind, will be offered by our speakers.
We are pleased to welcome Janice Gregory as a speaker to our conference. Janice has been a regular visitor from USA since 2011 and has already tantalised us with tales of her connections with her great aunt Alyse. Janice will present a talk on the life and family background of Alyse bringing forward many new facts and information about her relationship with Llewelyn and Alyse’s life after Llewelyn’s death.
Unfortunately, our scheduled speaker Elmar Schenkel has suffered a health condition that makes him unable to attend the conference. We wish him a full recovery. In place of his lecture we will have a tribute to Jacqueline Peltier, founder and editor of la lettre powysienne, who died on 24 July.
Chris Campbell will offer a “cross-cultural reading” of the prose of JCP and the poetry of the Barbadian author Kamau Brathwaite focusing on differing responses to the landscape of the west country of England in JCP’s Weymouth Sands and the Caribbean in Brathwaite’s poetry.
Goulven le Brech, who comes to the conference from France, will consider JCP’s contribution to the important series of Little Blue Books published by the social reformer, author and editor, Emanuel Haldeman-Julius in America in the 1920s. These short, inexpensive, and mass produced, pocket books, covering a broad range of subjects, provided JCP with an opportunity to present his ideas about his philosophy of life to a wide and popular readership. Other works in the series included titles by JCP’s friend Will Durant who later included a passionate tribute to JCP in his book Adventures in Genius.
David Goodway has strong memories of early meetings and discussions in the 1960s that led to the formal foundation of the Society. David will talk about his memories, the early days of the Powys Society and some of the people involved in setting up and running the Society.
On Saturday night Richard Graves will present a lecture entitled ‘John Cowper Powys and Merlin’ in what he describes as “the proper Powysian manner.”