"The Spirit of Place"
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.
29 May–9 June 2023 (and 12 June –23 June 2023 TBC)
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 2023 syllabus will include 14 writing workshops taught by prose writer Pamela Petro and poet Samantha Rhydderch, along with visiting tutors Kathy Miles, Hester Kaplan and Ros Hudis. Workshop 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.
Trips in 2023 are planned to take place to Newton House, Dinefwr Castle, Llyn y Fan Fach, St David's Cathedral, Henllys Iron Age Fort and to the coastal town of New Quay, which inspired Dylan Thomas’ play Under Milk Wood.
In addition to these places, in 2023 students may visit the Dylan Thomss Boathouse in Laugharne, Pentre Ifan, White Sands Bay and the Tregwynt Woollen Mill. 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 hillfort.
Our draft 2023 programme of nightly readings by Wales’ finest practising writers and poets will include Menna Elfyn, with likely appearances by Rufus Mufasa, Mel Owen, Connor Allen and Fflur Dafydd.
Toward the end of the programme, students will receive a 20-minute, one-on-one tutorial with Pamela Petro or Dominic Williams 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.
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
- £2450 (approx $2900) per person (inclusive of en-suite accommodation / meals / airport pick up and 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 toward a US degree.
- Returning students may build a UWTSD post graduate degree over a period of visits to the DTSS programme achieving 120 credits from four summer schools and completing a dissertation at a distance.
- Undergraduate students can start to build postgraduate credits concurrently
Administration correspondence and questions should be addressed to Dominic Williams firstname.lastname@example.org
The maximum number of places available on the DTSS is 18. Admission to accepted candidates is considered on a first come, first served basis. Note that the programme will only run subject to minimum numbers being met.
Important Dates for Applicants Prior to Travelling to Wales
|1 February 2023||Application Period Opens|
|1 March 2023||Application Period Closes|
|13 March 2023||Students will be notified of their acceptance|
|14 April 2023||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.
If payment is not received by 14 April 2023, your place on the programme may default to another student.
If you cannot attend the DTSS after having been accepted and paid your tuition, note that we will refund your payment in full up to 1 May 2023. After 1 May, we will not consider refunds unless it is possible to fill your place with another student.
Dylan Thomas Summer School 2023 application form
NOTE ON PASSPORT REQUIREMENTS
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.
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.
I liked that there was a workshop that focused on revision, so you could work on a piece for a more extended period of time. It was tremendous that all of the tutors read for us and very exciting for the whole group to have a public reading experience. All of the sites were terrific and having some time to explore on our own in a few of the towns was also very much appreciated
Laurel Burggraf Bassett: student 2019
I applaud your ability to get us so many Welsh writers. It was tremendous to get to meet and talk to each of them. The readings program worked great. I also really enjoyed the Poets and Pints readings. It was good experience to read my stuff and I really enjoyed hearing from the local writers (and our group, too.) That event was very well done.
I thought all our outings were worthwhile. They were not only interesting, I appreciated how well integrated the curriculum was to our site writing.
Jo-Anne Hart: student 2019
The activities and readings you planned were truly inspired! I came back with my mental and intellectual wellness at a high, and that’s saying a lot.
Roz Kaplan: student 2019
The school — and you two — added to my life with learning, writing inspirations, friendships, and new dimensions of spirituality and self-awareness.
I think one thing the school must never change is the combination of workshops, touring, and lectures/readings. Missing out on any one of those aspects would not have been satisfying, with respect to learning about Wales and about writing.
Chandra Bales: student 2018
The best thing about the program is the supremely gifted writers we were able to have access to and how lovely they were—how they were so willing to entertain our freshman questions. But the memories I cherish are chatting with poets and playwrights in a darkened library, walking the grounds alone before a meal when others are resting, and sharing and hearing work in real-time workshop setting day in and day out.
Wales is truly lovely, but because of people’s experiences in Ireland, England, or Scotland, they may not realize how comfortable and unassuming Wales is or that a small town can be.
Amanada Bardsley: student 2018
There was lots of enthusiasm and positive energy, and love of place, which was delightful.
You checked in with people and attended to individual needs when they came up in a caring, compassionate way. My highpoint was the Dylan Thomas birthplace, and the lunch in his former home. The tour guide, the meal, the garden he walked in – that was incredible!
Isabel Reddy: student 2018
The Dylan Thomas Summer School was my first experience of living and working with other writers, and this is of course the greatest strength of the program. No matter how strange these strangers are we all had at least one thing in common. This led to, what I believe, was the fastest developing bond I’ve ever had with a group of people. At the end of the trip, we were all a quirky little writing family. You could have sat any two people down and they could have had a deep and productive conversation, or just a fun goofy one.
Bridget Weigel: student 2017
The support of other writers, the scenes from the Welsh countryside and villages, the sheep calling to each other out my window, the music of the Welsh language, historic sites still standing but it’s the people and poetry that will linger the longest.
Delyn Arey: student 2017
When I had researched other study abroad programs, they focused mostly on classes and typical academic structure, allowing students to visit other places only when school wasn’t in. However, in this program, the visits were a part of the class itself. They were a source of inspiration, a way to see Wales differently than many people got to see it. I felt like this approach was more beneficial and less stressful than a typical academic setting and allowed me to feel more motivated.
Renee Booker: student 2017
This summer at the 2016 Dylan Thomas International Summer School has been the experience of the lifetime. I think the overall experience of this trip has surpassed the dollar value that was assigned to it, which was rather cheap when it comes to higher education.
Anthony Alberti: student 2016
Each mentor or instructor has personal knowledge of Wales, its citizens, locales, that they've been able to answer every single question we've had; they've always had time to sit down and speak with us, hearing all of our voices, concerns, ideas, and greet them with welcome arms. Every single need has been met and they have been so generous and thoughtful in their approach to us.
Mollie Beckman: student 2016
I had an amazing experience and I would highly recommending this program to other students. I'll also be telling everyone who is ever looking for a place to explore to go to Wales.
Mollie Chandler: student 2016
The bus drivers, those who tended our rooms, and those who made our food also contributed to the experience. We wanted for nothing, and we were greeted everywhere with courtesy and genuine hospitality.The visit to the special collections library was a treat of its own, again blending the history, mystery, and literature of the place. Our librarian’s wit and passion for his work made his presentation to us dynamic and meaningful.
Jody Hessler: student 2016
From all the ice-cream we managed to eat at New Quay, trying to huddle together from the freezing wind at Pentre Ifan, to the sheep’s bleating at night and crying our eyes out at the Indian restaurant on the last day really made this trip a memorable one and something I will hold close to my heart.
Caritza Berlioz: student 2015
I have had a lovely time along this trip. I have exited a better writer than before and will take away my experiences and new found inspiration back home to New York and cherish them for the rest of my life. Wales is a wonderful little country packed with secrets and mysteries, as are the people I’ve met along the way.
Jordan Winch: student 2015
The welcome meal the first night. It was just about perfect — great food, low-key, wine a-flowin’.
Amy Grier: student 2015
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 rigour of the program; the two weeks were challenging, fun, and, most of all, inspiring.
Jeff Bens: Chair, English: Director, Undergraduate Creative Writing Programme 2015
For an introduction to the Literature and Arts world in Wales please visit:
DTSS ALUMNI ACHIEVEMENTS AS OF AUTUMN 2017
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: https://www.ecotheo.org/. And “Jiveshake on the Subway” in The Lampeter Review. 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 -- https://account.heraldsun.com/paywall/subscriber-only?resume=201961694&intcid=ab_archive (archived; behind paywall).
Proposed DTSS Itinerary for 2023
|Mon 29 May||Students arrive in Lampeter. Dinner at Castle Green pub.|
|Tue 30 may||Introductory workshop in Founder’s Library. Visit medieval manuscripts at Rod Bowen Library. Tour of campus and town. Walk to Iron Age hill fort (optional).|
|Wed 31 May||Workshop in the morning at Welsh Quilt Centre. Hike to Llyn y Fan Fach and workshop.|
|Thu 1 June||To Aberystwyth for a private tour of Peter Lord's art collection and ekphrastic workshop.|
|Fri 2 June||Visit Dinefwr Castle and Newton House and combined workshop|
|Sat 3 June||To St. David's Cathedral and workshop. Walk to St David's Head and visit Tregwgynt Woollen Mill. Stay in Haverfordwest at Premier Inn.|
|Sun 4 June||Visit Pentre Ifan and Nevern Church to Castell Henllys Iron Age Village for workshop. Stay in Haverfordwest at Premier Inn.|
|Mon 5 June||To New Quay for Under Milk Wood tour and workshop. To Aberaeron for free time.|
|Tue 6 June||Campus workshops in morning. Free afternoon. (Pam takes interested students to Jen Jones Quilt shop; visit to Welsh Quilt Centre in Lampeter recommended.) Sophie Van Willarsd Sistime tales interested students on a walking/sketching tour of Lampeter.|
|Wed 7 June||Morning workshops. Tutorials in afternoon + free time.|
|Thu 18 June||Final workshop. To Dylan Thomas Boathouse in Laugharne.|
|Fri 9 June||Students leave for Heathrow Airport.|
In this section you can follow external links to the creative work of three graduates of the Dylan Thomas Summer School.
These pieces are very different in styles of creative writing and composition but each gives an in-depth and artistic representation of a detailed journal of the student's experiences at the summer school.
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's most recent book; a hybrid memoir / literary nonfiction book called The Long Field: Wales and the Presence of Absence; is pending publication.
Her most recent word and image installation was a solo exhibition of moved-camera photographs at Brown University's Watson institute in Fall, 2019, called The Blink of Our Lifetime: The Ecology of Dusk.
Dominic Williams lectures in the Faculty of Humanities and Performing Arts at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David.
He is also is a poet, a performer and creative writing mentor. Since 2014 he has curated the literary programme for an international arts festival At the Fringe in Tranås, Sweden. Williams is the MC of west Wales’ most established regular spoken-word event P&P@theQ and has performed his own work in Wales, Ireland, Sweden and the US. In 2012 He was partner in the delivery of the inaugural Dinefwr Festival in Llandeilo and the Pili Pala festival in Swansea and is a poetry editor and has worked with poets translating work from Bengali, Turkish and Swedish.
Williams enjoys the learning process of working collaboratively and is currently developing a series of improvised spoken-word and movement performances in collaboration with contemporary dancer Stina Nilsson for the European arts festival circuit. This act is called Your Strangest Friend. In 2016 he collaborated on a poetry performance piece with Jonas Svensson and has worked with American film-maker Georg Koszulinski with film and poetry. Williams has recently created a 20 minute performance piece focusing on mental health issues and well-being. He is also currently working toward an internationally travelling inter-disciplinary arts exhibition with Milica Denković, Irena Frantal and Martin Holm from Serbia, Croatia and Sweden.