Joe Milford Hosts Gemma June Howell

Broadcast in Poetry

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Gemma June Howell was born in the Caerphilly Miners hospital in the South Wales Valleys, UK, in 1983, and went to live in Graig-Y-Rhacca, a small council estate in the Rhymney Valley. At the age of six she moved to Folkestone in England. In the predominantly upper-middle-class suburbs of Folkestone, Gemma was brought up in a single-parent family on benefits, and quickly learned the strict class-boundaries and her place in society. As a child, with her father’s encouragement, she became involved in political activism and attended Anti-Nazi League and ANC marches in London and Folkestone. Later, at Swansea University, 2002, an avid political activist, Gemma took part in the many ‘Stop the War’ and ‘Not in My Name’ demonstrations. At the age of 10, with an evidently ‘posh’ English accent, she moved to the working-class, post-industrial North of England, Whitley Bay in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne. Just when she began to lose the accent and become familiar with the Geordie twang, she moved back to Wales, at the age of 12. Back to her roots in Graig-Y-Rhacca, Gemma lived with her politically active grandmother, and her interest in politics grew: her passion for the people who lived in ex-mining community being a catalyst for her developing vehement views. While studying for her A-Levels, she represented her age-group at local Labour Party meetings and was Chairwoman of the school council for two consecutive years. Her first taste of political writing was at the age of 16 when she joined the Red Poets Society for Poems and Pints, and she’d frequent old men’s working clubs and pubs around the valleys to read her poetry. In 1999 she won second place at the Aber Valley Arts Competition for her poem, Fear of the Unknown. While studying Politics & Media at Swansea University, she set up The Creative Writing Coalition and produced poetry magazine, Think Allowed! Since completing her Creative Writing MA two years ago she’s had excerpts from her plays.. (hear full bio on air)

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