New poetry commissions to note the unveling of the statue of Cranogwen

Published Fri 9 Jun 2023 - By Literature Wales
New poetry commissions to note the unveling of the statue of Cranogwen
Literature Wales is glad to note the unveiling of the long awaited statue of Cranogwen – Sarah Jane Rees (1839 – 1916) – with new poetry commissions. On Saturday, 10 June 2023, a special day will be held to remember the pioneering contribution of the poet in Llangrannog, and two specially commissioned creative pieces will be shared to celebrate the occasion: a poetic collaboration by the National Poet of Wales, Hanan Issa and Bardd Plant Cymru, Casi Wyn and a song by Casi Wyn and the children of Ysgol T Llew Jones, the local primary school.

The new bilingual poem by the national poets, ‘Dywed, beth oedd ei chyfrinach?’ (‘Tell me, what was her secret?’), will be performed for the first time as part of the celebrations. It’s a poem in the form of a dialogue between the land and the sea, which reflects the life and tremendous contribution of Cranogwen.  A song created by Bardd Plant Cymru, Casi Wyn with the children of Ysgol Gymunedol T. Llew Jones, ‘Sŵn’ will be performed by Casi and the children at Cranogwen’s grave. The poem that forms the basis of the song was composed in a poetry workshop in Brynhoffnant in May.

The two new pieces were commissioned by Literature Wales to celebrate three things, namely the new statue, Cranogwen’s contribution with her creative activity and raising her voice for women’s rights in Wales and the commendable work of the Cranogwen Community Sculpture organization volunteers realizing the ambition of erecting a monument to the poet from Llangrannog.

This is the third statue commissioned by Monumental Welsh Women of a named, non-fictionalised woman to be erected in an outdoor public space in Wales, following the unveiling of the Betty Campbell Monument in Cardiff in 2021, and of the statue of Elaine Morgan in Mountain Ash in 2022. Monumental Welsh Women’s mission is to erect five statues honouring five Welsh women in five locations around Wales in five years.

The unveiling will be a creative and ambitious celebration that will echo elements of Cranogwen’s many innovative achievements. Cranogwen was the first woman to win an award for poetry at the National Eisteddfod of Wales and one who will guide a ceremony during the day will be Professor Mererid Hopwood, the first woman to win a Chair at the National Eisteddfod. Joining Casi Wyn, Bardd Plant Cymru and Hanan Issa, National Poet of Wales there will be numerous artists taking part such as Qwerin, Eddie Ladd, choirs and local school pupils.

There is an open invitation for everyone to join in the celebrations on Saturday, 10 June which will start with a colourful parade from the Urdd camp, Llangrannog at 1.00pm. Cranogwen was president of the South Wales Women’s Temperance Union and the parade will pay tribute to that work. The artist Meinir Mathias will hold open workshops before the big day in order to create banners for the parade and the poet Mari George has written new words to the Men of Harlech tune for everyone to sing along to on the journey.

Sculptor Sebastien Boyesen was commissioned to create the statue and has set out to represent Cranogwen’s extraordinary achievements in an impressive yet subtle way, creating a permanent memorial that will ensure that Cranogwen continues to inspire into the future. Echoing how Cranogwen encouraged the talents of women, Keziah Ferguson, a promising female sculptor has been mentored during the project, by working with Boyesen on this commission.

The long awaited statue will be located in the centre of Llangrannog, in the newly renovated community garden, not far from where Sarah Jane Rees is buried in the church cemetery.