The winner of the New Scholars category of the M Wynn Thomas Prize for outstanding work in the field of Welsh Writing in English 2015 is Jamie Harris. Jamie is currently engaged in completing a PhD at Aberystwyth University, which is funded by the University’s Rendel Scholarship. His thesis focuses on writers of place and psychogeography in Welsh Writing in English since devolution. Jamie also teaches part-time in Aberystwyth’s Department of English and Creative Writing.
Jamie’s essay engages in a fundamental and at the same time hugely difficult and potentially divisive question: what makes a Welsh writer a Welsh writer? Is it genes? A writer’s place of residence? Her/his subject matter? Place of publication? Geraint Evans had already asked this question in his essay ‘Edward Thomas and the Canon of Welsh Writing in English’ (see IJWWE, Vol. 1, 2013), and it is unsurprising that this question should be most frequently addressed when writing about an author, whose Welsh inheritance or allegiance is somehow in doubt or who usually gets bracketed in a different category. Edward Thomas is usually a ‘war poet’, who articulates the British war experience. Jamie Harris skilfully anatomises and analyses Iain Sinclair’s allegiances and connections, arguing for his unquestioned inclusion in the ‘Welsh canon’.
You can read the essay in IJWWE, Vol. 2, 2014 or watch an interview conducted with Jamie at the AWWE conference 2015. Our thanks go to Dr Aidan Byrne (Wolverhampton University) for conducting the interview.