Following the birth of his first child fourteen years ago, Gwion Hallam almost turned his back on composing poetry. But a recent project working as a poet with dementia patients changed everything.
This work, the opportunity to encourage residents in dementia homes to create poetry, and the privilege of getting to know them and hearing the rhymes of their lives, was enough to re-ignite his passion for writing, and today, he stood to receive the Eisteddfod Crown on the Pavilion stage.
The Crown was presented for a free verse poem of no more than 250 lines, titled Trwy Ddrych (Through a Mirror). The adjudicators were M Wynn Thomas, Glenys Mair Roberts and Gwynne Williams, and presenting the adjudication on behalf of the three from the stage, M Wynn Thomas said, “The three of us agree that an unusually large number of poems managed to reach a very high standard this year.”
With thirty four entries in the competition, eight managed to reach the top class, and the adjudicator said that the “general standard of the competition may well outclass previous competitions.”
And coming to a decision did not prove an easy task for the three, as M Wynn Thomas explained, “We had a most wonderful quandary. So many excellent poems, but only one Crown. By a whisker, Glenys would have crowned Coppi.
But she is also more than happy to agree with us that elwyn/ annie/ janet/ jiws has dealt with one of the darkest curses of our times in a masterful and subtle way. Therefore, the three of us are in agreement that elwyn/annie/janet/jiws wins this year’s Eisteddfod Crown here in Bodedern.
Originally from Ammanford, Gwion Hallam lives in Y Felinheli, Gwynedd with his wife Leri and their children, Noa, Moi, Twm and Nedw. He works for TV production company, Darlun, and has been filming in Conwy, Lampeter and South Korea over recent months.
He has worked as a scriptwriter for TV and radio, and has published poems for children. His novel for teenagers, Creadyn, won him the Tir na n-Og Prize in 2006. He came close to winning the Crown at the Montgomeryshire and the Marches National Eisteddfod in 2003, but has composed little poetry since then.
He recently worked on a community project for Literature Wales, visiting dementia homes, and he would like to thank Gwen Lasarus for persuading him to do the work, and through this, rediscover his love for composing poetry. He is also grateful to his wife Leri, and says that these poems are for her.
The Crown is sponsored by Merched y Wawr, during a year of activities as the organisation celebrates its fiftieth anniversary. The financial prize is presented by Perkins Furniture and Flooring, Caernarfon.
Created by silversmith, John Price, a former craft teacher and the designer of many fine Eisteddfod Crowns over the years, the Crown skilfully weaves the aims of Merched y Wawr and some of Anglesey’s most iconic locations together beautifully.
The Crown is presented for a free verse poem of no more than 250 lines, titled Trwy Ddrych (Through a Mirror). The adjudicators are M Wynn Thomas, Glenys Mair Roberts and Gwynne Williams.
The Crown’s band represents the Menai Suspension Bridge, the iconic structure linking Anglesey with the rest of Wales. But it also represents the concept of ‘bridging’ in a wider context – the bridging between communities, and the fact that the Eisteddfod is a link between Welsh speakers across the country, non-Welsh speakers and learners.
Every arch includes a small fresco, with each one representing different elements. The daffodil, emblem of the Crown’s sponsors Merched y Wawr, is in one arch, with Dwynwen and the Isle of Llanddwyn depicted in another, representing Anglesey’s link with the sea and religion. There are two triple harps in another fresco, representing the Harpists of Llannerch-y-medd, and the link with music over the years.
One of the island’s most attractive attractions, Melin Llynnon, is depicted within one arch, representing ‘Môn Mam Cymru’ – or Anglesey, the mother of Wales – the island which once produced food for the whole of Wales. Jonah Jones’ memorial to the Princes of Gwynedd, located in Aberffraw, can be seen in another fresco, with the final fresco representing Tlws Pant y Saer, the famous burial chamber from the Neolithic period, close to Benllech and a symbol of the fact that we are still here, safeguarding our nation’s treasures centuries later.
The Cyfansoddiadau a Beirniadaethau includes the full adjudication for this
competition and the winners of all the other composition winners at this year’s
Eisteddfod. The volume is published at the end of the Chairing Ceremony on Friday
The Anglesey National Eisteddfod is held in Bodedern until 12 August. For more
information go to www.eisteddfod.wales.