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Riverside event 1 - Digwyddiad Glan yr Afon 1

Wonderful night at Haverfordwest Library for special Poet Laureate event

Noson wych yn Llyfrgell Hwlffordd mewn digwyddiad arbennig gyda’r Bardd Llawryfog

Haverfordwest Library was delighted to be part of the prestigious Poet Laureate Library Tour for 2024 with a special event on Friday 8th March.

Pembrokeshire County Council Chairman, Cllr Thomas Tudor extended a special welcome to the guests of honour: Poet Laureate Simon Armitage; his guests Owen Sheers and Bethany Handley; plus the winners of the recent library Poetry Competition.

The poetry began with writer, poet and disabled activist, Bethany Handley. Bethany campaigns for better access to nature for disabled people, and her work explores nature and disability, challenging the barriers that disabled people experience.

Bethany’s first poem was heartfelt and humorous about her experience of visiting a beach in her wheelchair. Her final poem also drew on her experiences, being a compilation poem of many well-intentioned, yet impractical or inappropriate, advice that she has received as a wheelchair user.

Owen Sheers is an award winning Welsh poet, author and playwright. He has twice won the Wales Book of the Year as well as the Hay Festival Poetry Medal.

His film-poem, the Green Hollow, about the Aberfan disaster, was BAFTA and Grierson nominated and won three BAFTA Cymru awards, including best writer.

Owen read an extract from the Green Hollow, bringing the horror of the disaster to life. He also read poems about parenthood and his experiences as a son and as a father.

The Poet Laureate, Simon Armitage, is the recipient of numerous prizes and awards, including the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry.

Simon launched into a poem about humanity, the universe and working as one. He then used his back catalogue of poems written for music. His poems covered some unusually random themes, particularly those he crafted during the Covid pandemic.

He said that he’d even written a poem inspired by a Velux window and read a beautiful poem about laying in a hammock watching a pair of newly-weds sail overhead in a hot air balloon.

His performances were engaging, humorous and moving and he brought the words to life.

Simon also spoke warmly about the importance of libraries as a child but also as an adult travelling about the country, with libraries always offering a warm welcome.

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Ashok Ahir, President of the National Library of Wales thanked the three poets and introduced the new exhibition in the gallery, Dylan: The Lyrical Life of Dylan Thomas.

The exhibition is open to the public until 14th September 2024. Further information can be seen online.

The event drew to a close as Cllr Tudor issued the prizes to the winners of the recent poetry eisteddfod competition. The competition celebrated the language, culture, heritage and literature of Wales.

The theme was Dylan Thomas. Entries could draw inspiration from any of his works or seek inspiration from a specific quote: “from where you are, you can hear their dreams”.

Entries received were of a high standard and were judged by Wendy Morse (leader of the Haverfordwest Library Poetry Group, who would welcome new members, contact Haverfordwest Library for more information); representatives from the Library staff and the National Library of Wales staff. The poems will be on display at Haverfordwest Library until the end of the Easter Holidays. 

Prizes have been awarded to:

  • Sian Davies: Athena, Goddess of Wisdom, adult written poem category
  • James Purchase: I Shall go Gentle into that Good Night, adult written poem category
  • Philippa Davies: Dylan is in the Library, adult spoken word category
  • Tony Potts: Windfall, adult illustrated poem category
  • John Matthews: Dylan Cwmdonkin, adult Welsh language category
  • Ellie McGrath: It was all a Dream, 11-14 age category
  • Skye-Lea Jones: Are you Listening?,11-14 age category

Thanks to the judges of the poetry competition and to Faber & Faber, who donated the book prizes in support of the Poet Laureate’s Library Tour.

Cllr Thomas Tudor said: “The Riverside opened its doors in December 2018 and has enjoyed many fascinating exhibitions since thanks to the continued partnership with the National Library of Wales.

“The Riverside was one of just six libraries to host this Poet Laureate Library Tour for 2024.

“It is a fantastic achievement for Haverfordwest Library to be a part of these significant events, helping to raise the profile and regeneration of the County Town and I thank everyone who has worked hard to make the event a success.”

The event would not have been possible without the continued support from The National Library of Wales and Haverfordwest Town Council. The President of the National Library of Wales and the Mayor, Sheriff and Clerk of Haverfordwest Town Council were all present.

Notes to editors

Haverfordwest Library played host to the Poet Laureate Library Tour for 2024.

The guests of honour were Poet Laureate Simon Armitage and his guests Owen Sheers and Bethany Handley.