Alan Llwyd, Professor in Swansea University’s Department of Welsh, has won the Chair in the Llŷn and Eifionydd Eisteddfod 2023.
One of Wales’ most prominent poets for generations, he managed to win the 'double', namely the Chair and the Crown in the same year - twice - in 1973 and 1976. He is the first poet since the relaxation of the ‘twice only’ rule to win the Chair for the third time.
The Chair is presented for a poem or collection of poems in cynghanedd, of no more than 250 lines, entitled ‘Llif’ (Flow). The judges are Karen Owen, Cathryn Charnell-White and Rhys Iorwerth.
Delivering the adjudication on behalf of the judges, Karen Owen said: "It was clear from the beginning that Llanw a Thrai is the best cynganeddwr of the competition. Personally, this work grew on me with each reading. This work is a very familiar story for Welsh-speaking Wales of our time, that of leaving a place before returning decades later full of guilty nostalgia.
"This poet, more than anyone else, had the clearest vision for his subject. This is also the poet who best succeeded in turning that vision into understandable, readable poetry that gives enjoyment. The structure of his ode is simple: a relatively old man returns to his childhood home. The tide of the sea and all the associated images then give him the opportunity to reflect on his lineage and his family, on succession, on what has been and what will be.
Alan Llwyd’s wife, children, and grandchildren were in attendance at the ceremony, and he described being chaired in front of his family as “a thrilling experience”.
Alan Llwyd, who lives in Morriston, Swansea was born in Dolgellau in 1948. He lived in the village of Llan Ffestiniog in Meirionnydd until 1953, and from the age of five he grew up on a farm in Llŷn. He spent the rest of his childhood as well as his adolescence in Llŷn. He was a pupil at Ysgol Botwnnog until 1967, when he went to the University in Bangor to study Welsh.
He graduated in Welsh in 1970, after which he worked in the Awen Meirion bookshop in Bala for two years, before moving to Swansea in 1976 to work as an editor for Gwasg Christopher Davies. Between 1980 and 1982 he worked for the Welsh Joint Education Committee in Cardiff, and from 1982, he worked full-time for Cymdeithas Barddas.
He worked for Barddas for almost thirty years, promoting poetry, and editing the Society's magazine and publications. He published over 300 books during his periods as publisher and editor for various organisations. Alan Llwyd, together with the late Penri Jones, founded Llanw Llŷn, Pen Llŷn's local paper.
As a poet and writer, he has published more than 80 books, including three complete collections of poems. It won the Nonfiction-Creative Book of the Year category in 2013 and 2020, and the Poetry Book of the Year category in 2019. In 2018, it won the Cwlwm Cyhoeddwyr Cymru Award for a special contribution to the publishing world. He has won over 50 literary awards so far. In 1993, he won the BAFTA Cymru award for Best Film Script in Welsh, namely the script of the film Hedd Wyn.
His latest collection of poems, Cyfnos, was published in February this year.