Doing poetry as a job means you meet many similar sorts along the way. Not other poets, exactly, but rather those people who actively promote and propagate the artform which we love, whether through journalism, organising events, marketing and promotion, teaching, or whatever else. They might be poets as well, of course, but also they are supporters who help enable other poets and often work giving them a platform.
In February I received a call from one of these poetry promoters, who I’d worked with previously on a project called Poetry Quest. He was now working to promote the Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award, which is run by the Poetry Society, and was wondering if I, as someone based in Wales, “could input on any media that you can recommend who might explore the topic of why we have so few Welsh top fifteen winners, as a rallying call to young Welsh poets to enter Foyle this year.”
It seems that this prestigious competition, now in its nineteenth year, just does not get enough Welsh winners. I was shocked!
There are truckloads of talent here in Wales. I work with them in schools and colleges all the time. So why was the last Welsh winner in this competition now two years ago, and even then just one lone girl – Sala Fadelallah, then aged thirteen, from Cardiff – and nobody else at all?
Coincidentally, I had just begin working as Coordinator of International Dylan Thomas Day and was looking for ways to promote Dylan’s Great Poem, the free to enter, four line poetry competition for children and young people aged 7-25, outside of Wales. It seemed like we at Literature Wales could ‘team up’ with the Poetry Society, and get the two competitions working together to achieve their aims.
To this end, Dylan’s Great Poem (Cerdd Fawr Dylan) is offering an extra element this year. As well as selecting one hundred lines of verse from all the poems to create this year’s Great Poem, as judged by poets clare e. potter and Rufus Mufasa, some entrants within the age range for the Foyle Young Poets competition (11-17), and living in Wales, will be invited to attend a poetry writing masterclass, to work on poems to enter into the Poetry Society comp.
It’s hoped that this partnership will increase the number of young Welsh writers entering Foyle Young Poets of the Year, and also assist some of them in improving their writing and thereby increasing their chances of being chosen as a top fifteen winner. I would dearly like to see more Welsh writers getting through on this!
However, Dylan’s Great Poem is only open for entries for one week. That week is now! The comp closes at midday on Thursday 5 May. So, please enter; please share the competition details with anyone you think might like to enter; please tell any teachers you know who could get their pupils involved, or any parents who want to have some creative fun with their children. The Great Poem itself will be bilingual, so entries in Welsh are very much needed, too. And we have plenty to inspire you, from a bespoke resource full of writing exercises on this year’s theme of ‘hands’, available on the competition page HERE, to blog posts from our celebrity poet judges HERE, to reams of resources listed on the Literature Wales website HERE.
So, please help however you can to help get the word to our young Welsh writers. We look forward to receiving many entries!
Mab Jones is an award-winning poet from Cardiff. She is coordinator of International Dylan Thomas Day, a freelance writer for the New York Times, and a tutor at Cardiff University’s Centre For Lifelong Learning. www.mabjones.com
Dylan’s Great Poem is part of International Dylan Thomas Day, and is funded by Welsh Government through Literature Wales. http://www.literaturewales.org/dylans-great-poem/
Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award is open for entries until 31 July. http://poetrysociety.org.uk/competitions/foyle-young-poets-of-the-year-award/
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