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Fourth time lucky for Welsh poet Carwyn Morgan Eckley

ON THURSDAY, October 21, it was revealed that the winner of the 2020-21 Urdd Eisteddfod Poetry Chair is Carwyn Morgan Eckley from Penygroes, Dyffryn Nantlle. 

After coming second in the competition on three previous attempts – this was his winning year.

Throughout this week, the Urdd Eisteddfod is awarding composition and creation work that was submitted in 2020, before having to postpone the national youth festival due to Covid-19.

“The theme of the poem is child poverty, and child poverty in Wales in particular,” explains Carwyn. 

“There are five scenes within the poem, looking at different aspects of child poverty here in Wales. I felt a real need to write about the issue, as almost a third of children in Wales are living in poverty.”

Carwyn wins a beautiful Chair carved by carpenter Rhodri Owen. Carwyn is 25-year-old and works as a journalist in the Welsh programmes department at ITV Wales in Cardiff. His interest in poetry started as a pupil at Ysgol Dyffryn Nantlle with encouragement from his teacher Ms. Eleri Owen. He went on to study Welsh at Aberystwyth University where he learnt to write in cynghanedd, and he is a member of this year’s winning Talwr y Beirdd team, Dros yr Aber.

Matthew Tucker from Pontarddulais came second, and Caryl Bryn Hughes from Porth Amlwch, Anglesey was in third place.

The competitors were required to compose a poem on the theme ‘gaining ground’. Judges Eurig Salisbury and Peredur Lynch noted that all of the thirteen entries ‘had their qualities’. 

And in a close competition, three of the entries were clear front runners. With Carwyn’s winning Awdl “a finely crafted poem worthy of praise and the Eisteddfod Chair.”

The judges said: “Composing an Awdl is no mean feat, and this is a skilful, bold and inventive example. The poet uses a range of different measures very effectively and has a masterful ability. The poet’s starting point is the fact that one-third of children in Wales are living in poverty today, and he heavily criticises the empty words of politicians. He creates a moving picture of a young boy and his mother, trying to cope with poverty.”

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The Chair has been designed and made by the carpenter Rhodri Owen, who explains: “It’s been a long journey to get here, not just for me but for many others. It’s an honour to finally introduce the Chair and I’m delighted with the finished piece.

“The wood I’ve used is beech and a small amount of oak. The coloured pannels are spotted beech, which means it has been planked, and then while drying in the open air, a fungus has gone into the wood and created these patterns.The black colours create these beautiful, natural patterns and the Urdd colours cut across it, and appear again at the top of the Chair.

“Having the opportunity to create an Urdd Eisteddfod Chair was very important to me. When I was a child, competing in the Arts and Crafts competitions through the Urdd definitely helped me develop an interest in crafting, and build on my skill set as an artist and a craftsman. I hope that this Chair reflects the hope (gobaith) in Urdd Gobaith Cymru.”

In partnership with Literature Wales, the top three will be invited to take part in a course at Tŷ Newydd Writing Centre. The Olwen Course will offer them a whole weekend of creative writing workshops, an opportunity to get to know other young writers and to learn more about the world of literature and publishing.

On Friday (Oct 22) the Urdd Eisteddfod will publish ‘Deffro’ , a refreshed volume of compositions put together by two former winners of the Urdd Eisteddfod.