Writer • Reader • Tutor • Researcher
Robert Walton’s first collection of poems, Workings (Gomer), won the Welsh Arts Council New Poet Award in 1978 but, for reasons which remain a mystery to him, he stopped writing for about twenty years. Following the publication of a 2012 pamphlet, Waiting for the Wave (Pighog), his second full collection, Sax Burglar Blues, was published by Seren Books in October 2017 – a gap of 39 years and surely some kind of record.
A strong, experienced reader of his poetry, Robert (aka Bob) regularly performs in the Bristol and Cardiff areas and has taken to the voice-mic in many locations from Bargoed to Llandeilo to London to Womad Festival in Gran Canaria and even by telephone in the Australian bush.
He has collaborated with artists in other media – music, dance, visual arts, storytelling, film and installation – and relishes the opportunity to develop site-specific projects celebrating places, people, history, environment and community. Some years back, he cut a CD with cult world music band, mopti: the ground-breaking album, Nomad ’64, is now so rare it doesn’t even come up on Google!
These days Robert is a founder-member of the Bristol-based poetry workshop and performance group, The Spoke, whose high-quality readings and rich, crafted poetry has drawn packed houses to their gigs. You can find out more about their latest exciting venture with the Severn Beach Line by going to http://www.trackrecord.com.
Bristol’s ever-inventive Show of Strength Theatre Company has performed six of Robert’s short dramatic monologues in a variety of settings, from a Polish food store to Bristol Harbourside. In his collaboration with top television director Colin Thomas, he carried out research and wrote the poetry narrative for the beautiful BBC2 Wales drama-documentary, Fighting to the End: Sisley in Wales, which was also shown on a continuous film-loop as part of the National Museum of Wales Sisley in Wales exhibition in Cardiff.
As a member of Inkling Productions, he has co-written two plays which were performed in Bristol, Gloucester and Cheltenham. He also helped to organise The Green Light, an innovative project committed to the development of green theatre and performance, where his short two-hander, Starman, was performed script-in-hand.
With actor-director Dominick Cullen, he is the other half of Rosebay Willowherb, whose off-beat blend of sound, poetry, song, movement and storytelling, Listening to Stones, provided audiences with a memorable experience in its four performances at Sanctum Bristol. It awaits the opportunity to be revived.
Following an M.A. with distinction in The Practice and Teaching of Creative Writing, Robert went on to pursue a combination of creative work and research to earn a PhD in Creative Writing at Cardiff University with a novel, Root and Branch, and a dissertation on the novels of contemporary Welsh women writers in English. In this field of research, he has presented papers to a number of academic conferences in Gregynog, Cardiff and Harvard University.
As a member of the creative writing workshop duo, The Write Box, he works with writer Sue Hill to run a range of story-making and writing workshops in primary schools and in the community. Most recently, they ran a number of workshops in Weston-super-Mare for Danny Boyle’s national Pages of the Sea project to commemorate the centenary of Armistice Day in November 2018.
After a long, enjoyable career as an English teacher in comprehensive schools, he now teaches Creative Writing in Cardiff University at undergraduate and M.A. level. He has also gained the HFE Certificate of Teaching in Higher Education with distinction.
Born and brought up in Cardiff, he has lived in Bristol for many years. The Severn Bridge, Severn Tunnel and cross-Channel view from Clevedon to Cardiff nourish his hiraeth. He enjoys political discussion and activism, is a member of both NUT and UCU, and rejoined the Labour Party a few years ago. He loves music, theatre, the visual arts, football and rugby, and has been the bane of several tutors who have tried to help him improve his playing of the tenor saxophone. At the moment he has a very patient saxophone teacher, Sophie Stockham, who tolerates his slow ‘progress’.