Literature Wales (formerly the Academi) is the Welsh national literature promotion agency and society of writers, existing to promote Welsh-language and English-language literature in Wales. Literature Wales publishes a literary magazine called Taliesin and a bilingual listings magazine called A470. It offers bursaries for writing projects, runs literary events and lectures, and provides financial assistance for creative mentoring and other literary-based ventures. The organisation also selects the National Poet for Wales, and manages competitions including Wales Book of the Year, the Cardiff International Poetry Competition, and the Rhys Davies Short Story Competition.
The Academi was initially formed as a Welsh language society in 1959, following a public discussion between Robert Maynard Jones and poet Waldo Williams. The Academi attracted notable Welsh writers and academics into its society from the start, and while a Welsh language-only publication, had as its chairmen Iorwerth Peate (1959–63), T. J. Morgan (1963–66) and J. E. Caerwyn Williams (1966–1975). An English language section was added in 1968 through the initiative of editor and linguist Meic Stephens in his then capacity as literature director of the Welsh Arts Council. The first chairman of the English language section was Glyn Jones who held the post until 1973. He was followed by Roland Mathias (1973–78), G.O. Jones (1978–81), Sam Adams (1981–84), Tony Curtis (1984–87), Gillian Clarke (1987–1993) and Sally Roberts Jones (1993–1997). The Welsh language chairmen after J. E. Caerwyn Williams were R.M. Jones (1975–78), Alun Llywellyn-Williams (1978–82), R. Gerallt Jones (1982–87), R. Geraint Gruffydd (1987–90), Gwenlyn Parry (1990–91), Harri Pritchard Jones (1991–96) and Nesta Wyn Jones (1996–98).
The Academi has been constitutionally independent since 1978 and took on an enlarged role in 1998 when it was reformed as a single organisation operating through two languages and won the Arts Council of Wales' franchise to provide the national literature support service for Wales.
On 1 April 2011, the Academi changed its title to Literature Wales, simultaneously merging with the writers' centre Tŷ Newydd. The present chairmen are co-founder Robert Maynard Jones (Welsh language section) and Dannie Abse (English language section).
Literature Wales operates the "Writers on Tour" scheme, which facilitates and helps to fund the placement of writers in schools, interest groups and organisations across Wales for literary lectures, discussions and workshops. It also administers the National Poet for Wales post (Gwyneth Lewis – 2005, Gwyn Thomas – 2006), Bardd Plant Cymru (Gwyneth Glyn); the Welsh-language Children's Laureate joint scheme between S4C, The Welsh Books Council, Literature Wales and Urdd Gobaith Cymru, and in 2005, administered the Cardiff Capital Poet project (Gillian Clarke). Managed by Literature Wales, the Glyn Jones Centre, based in the Wales Millennium Centre, provides a space for visitors and writers to gain and exchange information on the practice, publication and promotion of writing. The centre houses a large collection of Welsh-interest literature.
Following a lottery grant from the Arts Council of Wales, Literature Wales produced The Welsh Academy Encyclopaedia of Wales (published by University of Wales Press in 2008). The encyclopaedia was published in both Welsh and English and aims to combine the coverage of a gazetteer and biographical dictionary with the authority of a historical dictionary and the utility of a guide book.
Literature Wales's website provides a service as a guide to literary activity in Wales and beyond, including a database of all known writers, funding bodies, writers’ groups, publishers and periodicals currently active in Wales, listings of current poetry and story writing competitions and details of opportunities for writers. It also offers advice on getting published and publishing in general, as well as providing information on the other literature bodies and organisations in Wales.
The organisation of the awards presentation of the Academi's Wales Book of the Year competition 2008 was criticised after then Culture Minister Rhodri Glyn Thomas announced the wrong winner, although it was a simple mistake.
Literature Wales has campaigned against the Welsh Journals Online project of the National Library of Wales because it argues that authors should be paid in return for permission to allow their material to be digitised.
As a registered charity, Literature Wales is funded from public sources (largely the Arts Council of Wales, local authorities and a number of trusts), from members' subscriptions and to a lesser degree, from trading and literary activity. Its main offices are in Cardiff, sited at the Wales Millennium Centre and Mount Stuart Square, and there is also a small office based at Ty Newydd in Llanystumdwy in north Wales. Full membership is by invitation only, but members of the public may apply to become associates.
Literature Wales's chief executive is Lleucu Siencyn who replaces the previous chief executive, the poet and author Peter Finch. The organisation has a staff of twelve, ten of whom are based in Cardiff with the other two employed as literature field-workers in north Wales. The members committee is co-chaired by Arwel Jones and Catherine Merriman.
- Official website
- Stephens, Meic, ed. (1998). The New Companion to the Literature of Wales. Cardiff: University of Wales Press. p. 5. ISBN 0-7083-1383-3.
- Welsh Icons: "Academi and Tŷ Newydd join to create Literature Wales" Archived 2011-07-27 at the Wayback Machine.
- BBC NEWS | Wales |Wrong winner book event defended
- BBC News | Wales | Writers' digital row with Library
- http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-15650494 (accessed 14 January 2012)
- Academi: Members Committee (accessed 18 February 2009)