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In March 2017, Literature Wales announced Barddoniaeth Colled | Poetry of Loss, a new international programme commemorating the First World War and Welsh poet Hedd Wyn, who was killed on the battlefields of Flanders in 1917 just a few weeks before he was posthumously awarded the Bardic Chair at the National Eisteddfod.

Barddoniaeth Colled | Poetry of Loss is delivered by Literature Wales, funded by the Welsh Government’s Cymru’n Cofio Wales Remembers 1914-1918 First World War Centenary Programme, and in partnership with the Government of Flanders and Snowdonia National Park Authority.

The year-long Poetry of Loss project includes:

  • an evening of poetry, prose, music and discussion on Hedd Wyn and the poets of the First World War at Passa Porta, the International House of Literature in Brussels – find out more;
  • commemorative events in Ireland;
  • a writers’ residency exchange between Passa Porta in Brussels and Tŷ Newydd Writing Centre, north Wales – find out more;
  • and the production of a new multi-media poetry performance by National Poet of Wales, Ifor ap Glyn, entitled Y Gadair Wag – to be toured in September 2017;
  • plus, the annual Glyn Jones Lecture was this year delivered by Ifor ap Glyn at Hay Festival on the subject of Hedd Wyn.

This year marks 100 years since the Third Battle of Ypres (Passchendaele) where thousands of soldiers were killed, and approximately 3,000 casualties among the 38th (Welsh) Division. One of those who fell in battle was Hedd Wyn (real name Ellis Humphrey Evans), the poet from Meirionnydd who died before being announced winner of the Chair at the National Eisteddfod in Birkenhead later that year.

The empty chair was draped in black, and Hedd Wyn is still remembered in Flanders, as he is in Wales, as a potent symbol of bloodshed and loss. Remarkably, the “Black Chair”, as it is now known, was carved by a war refugee from Flanders, Eugeen Vanfleteren.

There are striking comparisons between the story of Hedd Wyn and that of another young poet, Francis Ledwidge from Ireland. They both died on the same day, and both are buried at Artillery Wood cemetery. Those comparisons will be explored, along with other themes such as refugees and bilingualism, during events and workshops to be held in Ireland later this year.

First Minister of Wales, Carwyn Jones said: “The centenary of Passchendaele, which claimed the life of Hedd Wyn and so many other Welsh soldiers, is an important part of the Cymru’n Cofio Wales Remembers 1914-1918 Centenary Programme. The programme of events being arranged by Literature Wales is an opportunity to reflect on the enormous sacrifices our soldiers made, as well as highlighting the loss of some of our most talented and creative individuals. It is important that future generations understand the impact that this terrible war had on so many aspects of Welsh life.”

More information on the Barddoniaeth Colled | Poetry of Loss project can be found in the commemorative brochure below:

 

Or contact Literature Wales, on: post@literaturewales.org / 029 2047 2266.

For more information on the Welsh Government’s Cymru’n Cofio Wales Remembers 1914-1918 First World War Centenary Programme, visit: www.walesremembers.org

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