27. John Evans
Creatives (352 votes)
Radical writer and filmmaker who documents the post- industrial South Wales Valleys.
John Evans holds a passport to the cultural no-go zones of Wales– the so-called ‘sink’ estates of Valleys communities that prosperity forgot. His portrayals are bleak and negative to the point of despair, but this is no literary tourist out to make a splash. He writes from experience because the Valleys are where he was born and continues to live.
Both by generation and inclination, John Evans is a product of the punk explosion of the late ‘seventies. He witnessed its arrival in Wales courtesy of the Sex Pistols, whose notorious 1976 Caerphilly gig saw fans outnumbered by evangelical protestors.
Suitably inspired, he played with a band called the Tax Exiles before being signed to an independent record label as ‘John Marlon’. A prolonged bout of glandular fever put paid to his solo career before it had really begun.
So he turned to writing, doing so full time for the past ten years.
His work is in the best traditions of new wave authors like William Burroughs and Kathy Acker – alienated and nihilistic but also deeply committed and almost exuberant in its determination to expose the truth as he sees it.
“This boy can write”, said the South Wales Argus when his first book How Real is My Valley appeared in 1994. Yet John Evans doesn’t confine himself to words alone –How Real was accompanied by a multi-media presentation while Industria and G.B.H mix text with photographs, poems and illustrations.
This not being the kind of stuff that flies off the airport bookstands, he operates outside the publishing mainstream. He set up his own publishing house, Underground Press, to distribute his books. He has also written a book about the Red Kite that should appeal to everyone who finds the other stuff a little unpalatable.
Alongside his books, John Evans has produced short films and features for television and his life and work has been the subject of several documentaries. He is also active in cultural and environmental projects in the Valleys.