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This report is taken from PN Review 229, Volume 42 Number 5, May - June 2016.

Letter from Wales Sam Adams
On 1st March, St David’s Day, Literature Wales, the administrative and funding agency for literature this side of the border, announced the appointment of a new National Poet: Ifor ap Glyn. In the words of the press release, he will represent ‘the best writing from Wales on the national and international stage’. From its inauguration in 2005, it was intended that a Welsh-language poet should alternate in the role with one whose work was largely, if not entirely, in English. Ifor ap Glyn has twice won the Crown at the National Eisteddfod (in 1999 and 2013) and published five volumes of poetry in Welsh. Unsurprisingly, Welsh is his first language, but he was born and brought up in Pinner, in the London borough of Harrow. Elton John and Michael Rosen were near enough neighbours and contemporaries. Therein lies an important lesson: as long as the family remains proud and firm in the Welsh language, the children will thrive in it, despite the omnipresence of English.

Traditionally, Crowned Bards, and Welsh poets in general, have risen from the ranks of teachers, academics and ministers of religion. Ifor ap Glyn, born in 1961, is from a newer mould. Since graduating from Cardiff University he has had a career in the media. He has a considerable reputation as television scriptwriter, producer and presenter. If you can call to mind a BBC 4 series called ‘Pagans and Pilgrims: Britain’s Holiest Places’, or another programme on the same channel, ‘The Toilet: an unspoken history’, then you will have had an opportunity ...


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