GRAHAM HARTILL: Men Inside (3): Three Men

Self Portraits

I was born in Germany in 1968. My dad was in the British Army. My mother went to live with him. We all moved back to Wales when I was 2 years old.

My dad was medically discharged from the army with multiple sclerosis. He opened a butcher’s shop with my brother. My dad was a strong man before the illness took hold.

I had 2 brothers. We were a handful for my mother. She had to take over the role as breadwinner because my dad had to give up his part of the shop. It was a hard time for us. My mum started taking it out on me. I didn’t think she liked me very much. Her bitterness towards me continued into my youth. I started stealing things from the local shops. I was good at it and had lots of friends.

At 11 years old, we moved to the same street as my Nan and Gramp in a rough area of Cardiff. My mother did her best by sending me to school dressed smart. But I was a target for bullies from day one.


Poet, workshop facilitator, lecturer. Born in 1952 in the English Midlands, Graham Hartill has lived in Wales most of his life since 1971. He studied at the Universities of Wales and Massachusetts, and has since given countless workshops and classes in the UK, USA and China. Co–founder of LAPIDUS, the UK–wide association for the promotion of creative writing in therapeutic contexts, Graham was also a Scottish Arts Council Writing Fellow 1990-92 and an Arts Council of Wales Writer’s Bursary recipient 1993, 1999 and 2006. He currently runs a writing-class in a prison. Selected Publications: Ruan Ji’s Island and (Tu Fu) in the Cities (The Wellsweep Press, 1992); The Lives of the Saints (RWC Press); Cennau’s Bell (The Collective Press, 2005); A Winged Head (Parthian, 2007)


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