A tutor on Swansea University’s Creative Writing programme, Jon Gower, has won the Welsh equivalent of the Booker Prize, namely the Wales Book of the Year Award 2012, and the university’s recently appointed Writing Fellow, Gwyneth Lewis, has won the 2012 poetry prize.
Organised by Literature Wales, with funding from the Arts Council of Wales, the Award is presented to the best Welsh-language and English-language works in the fields of creative writing and literary criticism in three categories: Poetry, Fiction and Creative Non-Fiction.
Jon Gower, who is part of Swansea University’s Creative Writing team, was declared overall winner of the Welsh-language section for his novel Y Storïwr, which follows a boy from west Wales who is a talented story-teller. As an overall category winner, Jon left the ceremony at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, Cardiff with £8000.
Jon will return to the English Department’s Creative Writing programme, in the College of Arts and Humanities, in the autumn to teach fiction writing to undergraduate students, and to teach a pioneering course to Masters students on nature writing.
Gwyneth Lewis, who joins the College in October as a Royal Literary Fund Writing Fellow, won the English-language poetry award for her collection Sparrow Tree and was presented with the Roland Mathias Poetry Award.
As a writing fellow, she will help students across the campus with their basic writing skills. The Fellowship Scheme was launched in 1999 and is based in UK universities and higher education institutions. Fellows are professional writers of literary merit who represent a wide range of literary genres.
Co-director of Creative Writing at Swansea University, Nigel Jenkins said, “These awards, along with the Chair and the Crown at the National Eisteddfod, are the highest literary honours our country bestows on its writers. This is a tremendous feather in our cap and shows the kind of calibre of writer that we engage on the Creative Writing programme at Swansea.
“Jon Gower has for years been recognised as one of the finest writers of Wales in both English and Welsh and has won many prizes in both languages. On this occasion, he has won a prize for his writings in Welsh. He will be returning to the Department in the autumn and his new courses are likely to prove hugely popular because of John’s reputation as a writer and broadcaster on the ecology of Wales.
“Gwyneth Lewis, who was the first National Poet of Wales, also has an outstanding reputation as a poet and prose writer in both languages. We are very proud to welcome her to the College, and know that her experience will be invaluable to students who face difficulties with their essay writing. There is no doubt that the presence of people like Jon and Gwyneth at the University is a major recruitment draw, and no other university in Wales can claim two winners.”
Although Creative Writing was inaugurated at Swansea as recently as 2003, the Creative Writing programme is generally recognised as the best in Wales and as one of the half-dozen most highly regarded in the United Kingdom. The subject is so popular with undergraduates that a new Creative Writing degree course will be launched in 2013, to cope with growing demand. Postgraduates, at the MA and PhD levels, have won significant prizes and contracts with major publishing houses, among them the fiction writers Roshi Fernando, Lisa Glass and Jennifer Cryer, and the poets Sarah Coles and Alan Kellermann.
“What distinguishes the Swansea programme from many others,” said Nigel Jenkins, “is the fact that the subject is taught first and foremost by practising writers with international reputations. They have to be effective and appealing teachers too, but it’s important that students feel that they are benefiting from their teachers’ years of practical experience in a wide range of writing genres.”
- Friday 20 July 2012 01.00 BST
- Friday 20 July 2012 13.16 BST
- Elaine Canning