"The Spirit of Place"

"If I Lived Here Always", words and music by Caitlin Dick, was written in response to a prompt by co-director Pamela Petro during the UWTSD Dylan Thomas Summer School 2017. Click the video above to hear the song and see other images from Summer Schools past.

A twelve day residential summer school focusing on the extraordinary landscape of Wales as a catalyst for creative writing. Students will attend daily writing workshops, travel to culturally significant locations, and listen to readings by renowned Welsh writers.

Monday 27th May - Friday 7th June 2019

The Dylan Thomas Summer School is a 12-day intensive writing programme at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David, in Lampeter, Wales. It was founded by Menna Elfyn in 2014 and is co-directed by Pamela Petro and Dominic Williams.

The course is structured to reflect its thematic emphasis on “A Sense of Place.” It is fully accredited by the University of Wales and is open to undergraduates, graduate students, and members of the public. Class size is usually about 15 students.

The 2019 syllabus will include 14 writing workshops taught by prose writer Pamela Petro and poet Samantha Rhydderch, along with visiting tutors Sally Shivnan, Kathy Miles, Paul Henry, Susan Richardson and former director of Wales PEN Cymru, Sally Baker. Workshops prompts are drawn from lectures, assigned readings and afternoon excursions. We encourage students to draw links between observations of Wales’ landscape and history and their own memories of “place” as raw material for their writing. 

On-site prompts in 2019 will take place at Llanerchaeron Gardens, Harlech Castle, Llechwedd Slate Caverns and in the coastal town of New Quay, which inspired Dylan Thomas’ play Under Milk Wood.

For the first time ever, in 2019 The Dylan Thomas Summer School will visit North Wales and spend two days and three nights at Ty Newydd, Wales’ National Writing Centre and former home of Prime Minister Lloyd George. We will hold writing workshops at the Centre and explore the neighboring town of Cricieth, its 13th-century castle, and nearby beaches. We will also spend a day in Snowdonia National Park; those who wish may hike the lower flanks of Mount Snowdon, the tallest mountain in England and Wales.

In addition to on-site prompt locations, in 2019 students will visit Teifi Farmhouse Cheese and Wales’ National Wool Museum, the harbour town of Aberaeron, the hiking centre of Dolgellau, and the Rhiannon Welsh Gold Centre in Tregaron. On the Lampeter campus, students will tour the Roderic Bowen Library, which contains one of the most important collections of rare books and medieval manuscripts in Britain and take an optional walk to an Iron Age hill fort.      

Our 2019 programme of nightly readings by Wales’ finest practicing writers and poets will include Menna Elfyn, National Poet of Wales, Ifor ap Glyn, Kathy Miles, Sally Shivnan, Twm Morys, and Rufus Mufasa We will also enjoy a special outdoors reading by Mike Parker, who will lead the group on a countryside walk from the mid-Wales town of Machynlleth.

Toward the end of the programme, students will receive a 20-minute, one-on-one tutorial with Pamela Petro or Sally Shivnan to discuss their work in private. Each student taking the course for credit must submit a selection of poems, short story, or essay for grading on Wednesday 5 June.

Please note that the programme is designed so that students’ time outside workshops and seminars is equally important to time spent in the classroom. Excursions and readings by Welsh authors prompt students to create material that could never be generated in the classroom alone. 

Costs and Credits

  • £1,750 per person (inclusive of en-suite accommodation / meals / airport pick up & return and all excursions)
  • Students may choose whether or not they wish to take the program for credit: a 30 credit module at the DTSS is equivalent to 3 graduate or undergraduate credits.

Administration correspondence and questions should be addressed to: Joanne Price: joanne.price@uwtsd.ac.uk, Tel: 011 44 (0)1570 424 723

The programme will only run subject to minimum numbers being met.

Important Dates for Applicants Prior to Traveling to Wales

  • 1 February 2019 -- Application Period Opens
  • 1 April 2019 -- Application Period Closes
  • 8 April 2019 -- Students will be notified of their acceptance.
  • 1 May 2019 -- Closing date for students to submit payment

Approximately two weeks before the programme begins, students will receive a letter of registration to be shown at Immigration when entering the U.K.

Here are some top tips for travelling to Wales


Dylan Thomas International Summer School 2019 Application Form


Non-visa nationals (this includes U.S. passport-holders) do not normally need to pre-apply for a visa from the U.S. in order to enter the U.K. to study at the Dylan Thomas Summer School, They must, however, inform immigration agents when they arrive at the border that they are in the UK to study on a short course/summer school of less than 6 months. In addition to their passport, they will need to show the agent their letter of registration from the university that states the details of the Summer School and notes that they have paid their tuition.

Details of these rules can be viewed here
Different rules may pertain if students are not U.S. passport-holders, plan to follow other courses of study while they are in the U.K., stay longer than 6 months, or already hold some kind of valid UK visa.


Lampeter was such a magical place that no matter where you went on the grounds you were inspired. I learned so much from the exercises and prompts that have improved my writing skills and made my work more creative. It was an amazing feeling being around people that were extremely imaginative with their writing.
(Brenne Post: student 2014)

It was a tremendous experience, learning about Dylan Thomas while surrounded by the roads he walked and the hills he gazed on. I'll always treasure the readings we attended, meeting the National Poet of Wales, and reading our own work in Dylan's house.
(Alicia Zadrozny: student 2014)

We had a fantastic time in Wales. The graciousness of the Welsh, the exceptional writers and teachers at UWTSD, the generosity and rigor of the program; the two weeks were challenging, fun, and, most of all, inspiring.
(Jeff Bens: Chair, English: Director, Undergraduate Creative Writing Program 2015)


Mollie Chandler, DTSS '16: Published her final submission for the DTSS in the Charles River Journal -- http://penandanvil.com/crj/7/mollie-chandler/#. She will read another poem she began in Wales in at the Prudential Center in Boston for Mass Poetry Unplugged, as a featured poet in their Under 35 series. She published a fiction piece in October in Lady Churchill's Rosebud Wristlet, as well as 4 poems in Hollow literary magazine. Most notably (for her!) she also had a poem accepted to The Fairy Tale Review's upcoming Charcoal Issue. 

Danielle Genarro, DTSS ’14, ’16: Published her poem, "Directions To My House," which she began at the DTSS, in Oberon Poetry Magazine in 2016.

Mariya Taher, DTSS '15: Was selected as a Top  5 Fiction Finalist in the Solstice Literary Magazine Annual contest for her short story "The Chaiwalla," which received the distinction of being the editor's pick -- http://solsticelitmag.org/content/editors-pick-chaiwalla/  

Gail Tyson, DTSS '14, '17: Will have three creative nonfiction essays published in Fall 2017: “Museum of My Identity” in Adanna: http://adannajournal.blogspot.com. “Like Water Lapping Shore” in EcoTheo Review: www.ecotheoreview.org. And “Jiveshake on the Subway” in The Lampeter Review: www.lampeter-review.com. She also has a short story in Still Point Arts Quarterly, Summer 2017 edition: https://www.stillpointartgallery.com, and is a creative nonfiction contributor Unbroken Circle: Stories of Cultural Diversity in the South, available from amazon.

Laura Wainwright, DTSS '14: Published an essay she worked on in Lampeter in The Martha's Vineyard Times -- Fieldwork: Loving a difficult father - The Martha's Vineyard Times.

Amy Wasserman, DTSS '16: Has been writing TV reviews for an entertainment industry site called Tracking Board -- http://www.tracking-board.com/?s=a.r.+wasserman. She also had a review published in The Rumpus-- http://therumpus.net/2017/02/good-girls-revolt-and-female-focused-sex-on-tv/

Gabrielle van Welie,  DTSS '15: Published her essay on hiraeth, "The Once and Future Wales," in Graffiti, Manhattanville College's literary magazine: https://issuu.com/graffitimag/docs/graffiti_2016_final_1. She also launched a website called The Nerd League.

Isabel Reddy DTSS '17: Published an article on Brain Resilience on the North Carolina Herald Sun website -- http://www.heraldsun.com/opinion/article201961694.html. 

Provisional Itinerary for DTSS 2019


Mon 27 May -- Students arrive; dinner at Castle Green.

Tues 28 May -- Introductory workshop in Founder’s Library. Visit Roderic Bowen Library; tour of campus and town; walk to Iron Age hill fort (optional).

  • Reading: Menna Elfyn
  • Workshop: Pamela Petro

Wed 29 May -- Morning workshops. Afternoon: to Teifi Farmouse Cheese and Nat’l Wool Museum.

  • Reading: Rufus Mufasa
  • Workshop: Pamela Petro
  • Workshop: Samantha Rhydderch 

Thurs 30 May -- To New Quay for Sam Rhydderch’s Under Milk Wood tour and workshop in the Crow’s Nest; to Aberaeron; to Llanerchaeron for garden tour + workshop.

  • Reading: Kathy Miles
  • Workshop: Samantha Rhydderch (New Quay)
  • Workshop: Kathy Miles (Llanerchaeron)

Fri 31 June -- To North Wales. To Harlech for castle tour, lunch, and workshop; to Ty Newydd--arrive around 5 pm. Communal cooking experience!

  • Reading: Ifor ap Glyn (National Poet of Wales)
  • Workshop: Pamela Petro (Harlech)

Sat 1 June -- Stay local. Optional walk to sea, or stay at house and grounds; to Criccieth for lunch, exploration, optional castle visit; afternoon workshops at Ty Newydd. Cook dinner.

  • Reading: Sally Shivnan and Jane Brox
  • Workshop: Pamela Petro
  • Workshop/talk: Sally Baker (former Director of Wales PEN Cymru)

Sun 2 June -- To Blaenau Ffestiniog to tour Llechwedd Slate Caverns and hold on-site workshop; to Llanberis Pass: option of hike up Miner’s Trail toward Snowdon or, for those who don’t want to hike, take bus tour of region; meet at Pen-y-Ceunant Isaf (pub/tea shop) at foot of Miner’s Trail. Dinner at Ty Newydd 

  • Reading: Twm Morys
  • Workshop: Sally Shivnan (Llechwedd Slate Mine)

Mon 3 June -- (FREE DAY--no workshops) Return via Dolgellau for coffee break; meet author Mike Parker for walk/reading in Machynlleth (Mike leads hike from town; those who wish to stay in town may); return via  Rhiannon Welsh Gold Centre in Tregaron for shopping and café.

  • Reading: Mike Parker

Tues 4 June -- Morning workshops; free afternoon (Pam takes interested students to Jen Jones Quilt Shop.)

  • Reading: Pamela Petro and Dominic Williams
  • Workshop: Susan Richardson
  • Workshop: Pamela Petro

Wed 5 June -- Morning workshops; tutorials in afternoon + free time.

  • Reading: Poems & Pints
  • Workshop: Pamela Petro
  • Workshop: Paul Henry

Thurs 6 June -- Final workshop; students to Dylan Thomas Boathouse in Laugharne.

  • Farewell dinner.
  • Workshop: Pamela Petro

Fri 7 June -- Students leave.


Dylan Thomas Summer School Directors

Pamela Petro


Pamela Petro is the author of three books of place-based creative nonfiction for HarperCollins UK, including Travels in an Old Tongue: Touring the World Speaking Welsh. She has also written award-winning articles and essays for The New York Times, Granta, The Paris Review, and more.

She teaches Nonfiction on Lesley University’s MFA in Creative Writing Programme, is a Lecturer at Smith College, and is a Fellow of the University of Wales Trinity Saint David. She is also a visual artist who has received visual arts and literary residencies from Grand Canyon National Park, The MacDowell Colony, The Black Rock Arts Foundation, and The Spring Creek Project. She received her BA from Brown University and her MA from the University of Wales Trinity Saint David. Pamela is currently working on a hybrid memoir / literary nonfiction book called The Long Field: Wales and the Presence of Absence.


Dominic Williams


Originally from the valleys of the South Wales Coalfield Dominic Williams is a writer and poet based in Carmarthenshire.

For nearly twenty years his home has been the small fishing village of Ferryside on the Tywi estuary from where he runs his publishing house Iconau Books. Williams is a co-founder of the community interest company write4word and with his friend, Irish poet Denis Collins, established the Wales Ireland Spoken-word and Poetry Alliance (WISPA).

He is the MC of West Wales’ most established monthly spoken word event, Poems and Pints at the Queens. In 2012, as coordinator of the Coracle project he was a founding partner of the inaugural Dinefwr Literature Festival and in 2006 organised and managed the week-long Welsh Writing for The World Festival in venues across New York City.

He has been a board member of New Welsh Review and is currently the chair of the board of trustees of DAC, Wales' national charity for Disability Art. He has been a regular guest lecturer on the MA Creative Writing programme for the last ten years and is the Disability Adviser for the Swansea campuses of UWTSD.