Last night saw the awards evening for the 10th annual Welsh Poetry Competition, an international competition which has grown and expanded under the care of writer and curator Dave Lewis.
Held in Clwb y Bont, on Pontypridd’s Taff Street, the evening was pertinent for me, having spent the first years of my life in Ponty. Fittingly, I read a poem about Homesickness, about the longing I feel for Wales since I have been living in Gloucester.
The competition was judged by John Evans, who filtered through over 500 entries to choose the pieces that “moved him most.” John spoke passionately about the 20 winning poems, 3 of which came with prize money attached. He spoke about the merit of passion and feeling over technicality and form. “Technique is something we can teach,” he said. “But the creative soul must be evident.”
John’s own passions were reflected in his choices, which included pieces about nature, the environment and animals. The winning poem, by Tarquin Landseer from London, was a poetic adaptation of the 2013 documentary Blackfish, a poignant film about Orca Whales living in captivity.
Dave Lewis spoke emphatically about anonymity in writing competitions, and shared his thoughts on the importance of equality (ofttimes lacking) in the writing world.
So how can you do your bit to boost the writing industry and ensure equality across the sector? To begin with, support independent competitions. Entering competitions like The Welsh Poetry Competition and The Terry Hetherington Young Writers Award, which are judged anonymously and independently funded, is a great way to support the creative industry and to ensure the competitions keep running, year after year, giving voice to new writers.
Attend local events. Go to readings, launches and book signings, and if you can afford to, buy the book. It’s great for the heart and soul of those braving the stage and promoting their own work, and good for you as a writer, to attend these events and show your appreciation for someone else’s work. You’ll get to know people this way, and the good karma will come back to you when you hold your own events.
Buy the Welsh Poetry Competition anthology from Amazon.