Catrin Dafydd wins the Eisteddfod Crown

6 August 2018

One of Wales’ most exciting young poets and writers has won this year’s Eisteddfod Crown in Cardiff.  

Catrin Dafydd wins the prestigious Crown for a collection of poems not in strict metre of no more than 250 lines on the theme of Olion (Traces).  Adjudicators Christine James, Ifor ap Glyn and Damian Walford Davies placed her ahead of all other poets in a competition which attracted 42 entries.

The three adjudicators agreed on the five collections of poems which reached the top in this year’s competition.  Speaking on behalf of her fellow judges, Christine James said, “Although not totally unanimous on every poet’s ‘rank’ in the competition, it was pretty clear that we agreed on which were the best.”

And although each one also “fell below their own high standards at times”, the adjudicators also agreed that three of the five were worthy of winning this year’s Crown, with Yma’s collection coming top.

“The theme of this collection is the ‘mixed’ Welshness of Grangetown – the area over the river from this year’s Eisteddfod.  The poet introduces us to a community of characters set on a ‘map’ of local streets, through a series of dramatic monologues.

Yma can write tenderly, but as the poem ‘Jentriffiecshyn’ shows, the poet can also write in a tongue-in-cheek style, raising questions about what exactly happens when Welsh speakers ‘colonise’ areas of the city.

“This is a timely and appealingly hopeful collection by a poet who is an eloquent interpreter for our capital city’s lively and mixed Welshness.”

Originally from Gwaelod y Garth, Catrin graduated at Aberystwyth University, where she was President of the Welsh language union UMCA from 2003-04.  She now lives in Cardiff and works as part of the Pobol y Cwm writing team.  She has written five novels, with the latest, Gwales, winning this year’s Fiction Prize in the Welsh language Book of the Year competition.  Her other novels are Pili Pala, Y Tiwniwr Piano, Random Deaths and Custard and Random Births and Love Hearts.

She edited both Tu Chwith and Dim Lol magazines, and in 2011, she was among a group of young poets who set-up the Bragdy’r Beirdd evenings in Cardiff.  She will be rushing off after today’s ceremony to prepare for the Siwper Stomp on the Pavilion stage this evening, where she will be performing with the rest of Bragdy’r Beirdd.

She is an active member of Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg (Welsh Language Society) and other groups, and is a member of the team promoting Diwrnod Shw’mae Sumae, promoting the fact that the Welsh language belongs to everyone in Wales.

She wrote a large chunk of the poems in Cardiff Central Library, and is keen to see the continued success of places open to the public: places where books, history and art are available for everyone – free of charge.

Catrin is grateful to her partner, Dyfed, for the conversations, the laughter and for encouraging her to keep writing the poems over the long winter months.

The Crown is donated by Cardiff University, and the financial prize is presented by Manon Rhys and Jim Parc Nest.  The Crown was designed and created by Laura Thomas, Neath.  Laura has put in more than 400 hours of work to produce a unique Crown that is modern yet respectful of the Eisteddfod’s traditions.

Her inspiration for the design was derived from her signature technique, parquetry, where she inlays wood veneer into sterling silver. The Crown features more than 600 hexagonal inlays, all added by hand.

The Crown includes five types of precision cut wood veneers inlayed by hand into geometrically structured silver and then assembled to create the structure.

The use of sustainable veneers echoes the ongoing development of sustainable technologies surrounding Cardiff, such as biomass-based power generation, which is something Laura wanted the Crown to reflect.”

Following a competition led by Cardiff University, Laura was chosen ahead of several high-quality designers. 

The winning poems will be published on the Eisteddfod website following the ceremony and the Cyfansoddiadau a Beirniadaethau, which includes the full adjudication for this competition and the winners of all the other composition winners at this year’s Eisteddfod will be published at the end of the Chairing Ceremony on Friday afternoon.

The Cardiff National Eisteddfod is held in Cardiff Bay until 11 August.  For more information go online, www.eisteddfod.wales.