On 10 May, the winners of the 2018 DylanED book review competition were announced. Pupils and students from schools and colleges across Swansea, as well as undergraduates from Swansea University, took part in the 2018 competition, producing eloquent, thoughtful, touching reviews of the 2018 International Dylan Thomas Prize shortlisted books.
The winning entries came from Georgia Fearn from Gower College; Maddy Davies from Ysgol Y Preseli; Bethan David from Bryn Tawe; and Nina Peric from Bishopston Comprehensive. The winners of the Swansea University undergraduate competition were Polly Manning and Nathan Phillips.
Pictured above (l-r) are winners: Georgia Fearn from Gower College; Nina Peric from Bishopston Comprehensive; Kayo Chingonyi; Polly Manning, Swansea University; Gwendoline Riley; Maddy Davies from Ysgol Y Preseli; Carmen Maria Machado; Bethan David from Bryn Tawe; with Hannah Ellis.
At a special event hosted at Swansea University’s Taliesin Create, the winners collected their trophy and a copy of the six shortlisted books from Hannah Ellis, Dylan Thomas's granddaughter, who said ‘The event was a wonderful opportunity for young people in Swansea to showcase some brilliantly written book reviews. Through just a few short paragraphs, they demonstrated not only how perceptive and thoughtful they were but also that they were excellent writers. Their well considered words were hugely appreciated and well received by the shortlisted authors.’
The event was sponsored by Swansea Council, and the Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress were in attendance.
Dr Elaine Canning, Director and Executive Officer of the Prize, said: ‘We were impressed with the quality of the entries received, and many congratulations to all the worthy winners. We have ambitious plans to develop further this important educational strand of the Prize’s activities and are delighted to announce that, amongst other new initiatives, we will be taking DylanED into the Swansea Valleys in the autumn thanks to sponsorship from the Rhys Davies Trust. We have many more young creative voices to find.’
In the competition for schools and colleges (16-18 year olds), first place was awarded to Georgia Fearn from Gower College for her review of Gabriel Tallent’s My Absolute Darling. Georgia commented that ‘this is not a typical coming of age novel. It questions whether we can ever really escape a traumatic childhood’.
Second place went to Maddy Davies from Ysgol Y Preseli for her review of Carmen Maria Machado’s Her Body and Other Parties. Maddy stated that ‘this short story collection is not for the faint-hearted!’
Two entries were also highly commended.
Bethan David from Bryn Tawe for her review of Gwendoline Riley’s First Love. Bethan said she was ‘taken aback by Neve’s almost clinical outpourings in relation to the toxicity of her relationship’; and Nina Peric from Bishopston Comprehensive School for her review of Gwendoline Riley’s First Love. Nina described Riley’s ability to reach into the heart of the reader and evoke all kinds of emotions: happiness, sadness, rage and joy.
In the competition for Swansea University Undergraduates, the winning entries were received from Polly Manning for her review of Carmen Maria Machado’s Her Body and Other Parties; and Nathan Phillips for his review of Gwendoline Riley’s First Love. (Unfortunately Nathan was unable to attend the event.)