Third International Dylan Thomas Day Celebrates with Worldwide Events
The first ‘Dylan Day’ took place two years ago following requests to establish a public day for the poet, after the year-long Dylan Thomas 100 Festival was met with great enthusiasm. Now, International Dylan Thomas Day, or ‘Dylan Day’ as it is affectionately known, is held annually on 14 May, the date Under Milk Wood was first read on stage at The Poetry Centre in New York in 1953.
Dylan Day, which is delivered by Literature Wales as part of a three year package of funding from Welsh Government, aims to celebrate and raise the profile of Thomas’ work in Wales and abroad through a variety of activities, including events, educational resources and a social media campaign.
This year includes an exciting array of activities, including all of the key locations associated with the poet: New Quay, Laugharne, Swansea, Penzance, Oxford, London, and New York.
The celebration by now includes the preceding as well as following week, with the prestigious International Dylan Thomas Prize, in collaboration with Swansea University, taking place on 10 May. The event opens at 7.00 pm at the Great Hall on the stunning Swansea University Bay Campus. The winner of the £30,000 prize for the best published literary work in the English language, written by an author aged 39 or under, will be announced during the evening. There will be a wine and canapé reception for ticket holders.
The Prize also includes a reading by the shortlisted writers at the British Library in London as part of the Saboteur Awards on 13 May: this will present a number of literary prizes, including this year’s Wildcard Award which is sponsored by International Dylan Thomas Day.
On the 14 May itself, there is a full programme of coordinated activities, several of which centre around the Wheatsheaf Tavern in Fitzrovia, London, including Guy Masterson’s Under Milk Wood at 2.00 pm, and the launch of John Goodby’s Discovering Dylan Thomas: A Companion to the Collected Poems and Notebook Poems (University of Wales Press), plus Hilly Janes will be reading from Ugly, Lovely (Parthian) at 5.30 pm.
At the London Welsh Centre, former Young People’s Laureate for Wales, Martin Daws, and former Bardd Plant Cymru (Welsh Language Children’s Poet Laureate), Aneirin Karadog, plus fellow performers from 2014’s Dylan Live! show, will launch the book, CD, and download Wales Bird : Aderyn Rhiannon.
In Swansea, the Dylan Thomas Society, Dylan Thomas Birthplace, and Dunvant Male Choir will perform ‘as I was young and easy’ – a journey through Dylan’s life in words and music – on 13 May at St James Church, Uplands, Swansea from 7.00 pm. There are a variety of activities to enjoy in the area on 14 May, including a walk led by Lighthouse Theatre, drop-in family activities at the Dylan Thomas Centre, ‘Translating Dylan’ at the Dylan Thomas Birthplace, and culminating in an evening of jazz, poetry, talks, and film with Jeff Towns and company at Cinema & Co from 7.00 pm.
Chirk Castle, which holds links with the Welsh bard, will host a drop-in writing workshop from 11.30 am – 12.30 pm with Young People’s Laureate for Wales, Sophie McKeand. Sophie will be joined at 12.45 pm by National Poet of Wales, Ifor ap Glyn, and the pair will give a poetry reading in both Welsh and English.
New York will host three events this year: an online recording of the Michael Sheen-led performance of Under Milk Wood at 92nd Street Y; guest speakers at the Sunken Hundred, featuring Welsh actor Matthew Rhys; and an exciting live link-up between poets in New York, Wales, Portugal, Ireland, and Tranås in Sweden for a multi-nation poetry reading. This takes place at the White Lion in Ferryside.
From Argentina / Patagonia, the British Council will be sharing a new video of their ongoing Under Milk Wood project; in Australia, there will be events run by Perth Poetry Club and The Dylan Thomas Society of Australia; and in Turin, Italy, there will be a day of lectures on Dylan Thomas and Bob Dylan.
Online, you will be able to view the selected entries from this year’s Love the Words cut-up poetry competition, as chosen by Dylan’s grand-daughter Hannah Ellis, on her website: www.discoverdylanthomas.com.
In the run up to the festivities, you can continue to read articles and interviews on the Wales Arts Review website (www.walesartsreview.org), who we have linked with this year.
The Economy Secretary, Ken Skates, said: “It is great to see the third ‘Dylan Day’ being celebrated in Wales, New York and England. We know from the success of previous Dylan Thomas and Roald Dahl centenary celebrations that there is a genuine appetite to celebrate and learn more about our literary figures and this more pertinent than ever in our 2017 Year of Legends.
“Crucially celebrations like Dylan Day also serve to raise the profile of Wales in the UK and overseas and encourage more people to come and visit. I am so pleased the Welsh Government was able to provide a three year package of funding for International Dylan Thomas Day and I hope the legacy of this genuine literary legend will continue to build.”
In the words of actor Michael Sheen:
“To experience the sensual electric thrill of Dylan Thomas’ words makes any day special.
Be good to your soul and make sure May 14th is one of them.”
Find out more on the International Dylan Thomas Day project pages, and by following the hashtags #DylanDay and #DyddDylan on social media.
A full list of Dylan Day events is available to view here.