The Long Field: Wales and the Presence of Absence - Pamela Petro
The Long Field: Wales and the Presence of Absence
The Hive, Belmont, SY1 1TE Tickets: Full £10 Friends £8 U18 £6
The Long Field burrows deep into the Welsh countryside to tell how this small country became a big part of an American writer's life. Petro, author of Travels in an Old Tongue, twines her story around that of Wales by viewing both through the lens of hiraeth, a quintessential Welsh word famously hard to translate. It literally means "long field," but is also more than the English approximation of "homesickness." It's a name for the bone-deep longing felt for someone or something--a home, culture, language, a younger self--that you've lost or left behind.
Hiraeth is embodied by Arthur, King of the Once and Future, but never the Present. It is, above all, an acknowledgement of the presence of absence in our lives. The Long Field braids the hiraeth Petro has experienced personally--as an American who pines for Wales; as a gay woman in a same-sex relationship; as the survivor of a horrific train crash; as the daughter of a parent with dementia--into the essential hiraeth stories of Wales.
Along the way Petro looks at hiraeth in traditional and radically new ways: queer hiraeth, the hiraeth of technology, ancestry, minorities, the environment, and politics in the age of Brexit and Trump. Petro's hiraeth is not only an awareness of loss and longing but also a creative response to absence and loss, which she sees as the genius of Welsh culture and the wellspring of all creativity.
PAMELA PETRO is an author, artist, and educator living in Northampton, Massachusetts. In addition to all the things you already know about her from this website, here are a few more: she was recently made an honorary Fellow of the University of Wales, and has received both literary and visual arts residencies and fellowships from Grand Canyon National Park, the MacDowell Colony, the Spring Creek Project for Ideas, Nature and the Written Word, and the Black Rock Arts Foundation. She went to Brown University as an undergrad, and to The University of Wales, Trinity St David, for her Master’s Degree in Word and Image Studies. She also studied at the Sorbonne, Paris I, and the Ecole du Louvre in Paris, France. She has spent years studying both French and Welsh, but can’t speak either one very well.