"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 25 May - Friday 5 June 2020

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 2020 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 and Susan Richardson  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 2020 are planned to take place at Aberglasney Gardens, Carreg Cennan Castle, Llyn y Fan Fach, Narberth Castle Big Pit Mine and in the coastal town of New Quay, which inspired Dylan Thomas’ play Under Milk Wood.

In addition to on-site prompt locations, in 2020 students may visit Non Nom chocolate factory, Penderyn Whiskey Distillery, Arthur's Stone on Gower, Rhosili Bay 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 2020 programme of nightly readings by Wales’ finest practicing writers and poets will include Menna Elfyn, with likely appearances by Gilliams Clarke, Sion Owen, Rachel Trezise and Horatio Clare. 

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 3 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

  • £1,950 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 Dominic Williams: dominic.williams@uwtsd.ac.uk

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 Traveling to Wales

  • 1 February 2020 -- Application Period Opens
  • 1 March 2020 -- Application Period Closes
  • 8 March 2020 -- Students will be notified of their acceptance.
  • 15 April 2020 -- 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 15 April 2020 your place on the programme may default to another student.”

If you find 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 2020. After 1 May we will not consider refunds unless it is possible to fill your place with another student.


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.


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 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. 

Proposed DTSS Itinerary for 2020


Mon 25 May -- Students arrive in Lampeter. Dinner at Castle Green pub.

Tues  26 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 27 May -- Campus workshop in morning. Visit Nom Nom chocolate factory. To Narberth for castle visit and Mabinogion workshop.

Thurs 28 May -- - To Aberglasney Gardens for tour, workshop, and lunch. To Carmarthen for free time.

Fri 29 May -- Hike to Llyn y Fan Fach in Brecon Beacons National Park. To Carreg Cennan Castle for combined workshop.

Sat 30 May -- To Big Pit Coal Mine for tour and workshop. To Penderyn whisky distillery. Stay in Swansea at Premier Inn.

Sun 31 May -- To Dylan Thomas Birthplace for tour, workshop, and lunch. To Gower Peninsula to see Arthur’s Stone megalith and Rhossili Beach. Stay in Swansea at Premier Inn.

Mon 1 June -- To New Quay for Under Milk Wood tour and workshop. To Aberaeron for free time. Return to Lampeter via Rhiannon Gold Jewelry in Tregaron.

Tues 2 June -- Campus workshops in morning. Free afternoon. (Pam takes interested students to Jen Jones Quilt shop; visit to Welsh Quilt Centre in Lampeter recommended.)

Wed 3 June -- Morning workshops. Tutorials in afternoon + free time.

Thurs 4 June -- Final workshop. To Dylan Thomas Boathouse in Laugharne.

Fri 5 June -- Students leave for Heathrow Airport.

Programme Directors

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.