Aneirin Karadog, who is studying a Doctorate in Welsh creative writing at Swansea University’s Academi Hywel Teifi, is the winner of this year’s Eisteddfod Chair, and he was honoured at a special ceremony in the Pavilion on Friday 5 August.
This year’s task was to compose a sequence of poems in full cynghanedd of up to 250 lines titled ‘Ffiniau’ (Borders / Boundaries). The adjudicators were Tudur Dylan Jones, Cathryn Charnell-White and Meirion MacIntyre Huws.
The competition attracted nine entries, and when delivering the adjudication, Tudur Dylan Jones said, “The pseudonym is Tad Diymadferth?, with a question mark at the end.
“The opening poem of the sequence is ‘Gwyr a Aeth Catterick Barracks’. A father driving his son in a car to become a soldier. The father is against his son’s decision to become a soldier. The father sees the big picture, and sees that war creates most of the world’s problems like famine and refugees who have to cross seas to seek asylum.
“We see different points of view in the poems, the father, the son, the asylum seekers, the politicians, and the there is a deliberate echo from Dic Jones’ ode, ‘Y Gwanwyn’. The Hendre farm borders with the Aberporth airport, where they practise flying the drones used to kill people.
“The final poem, ‘Dros blant ein plant’ (For our children’s children), shows the desperation of the father because his son is responsible for killing people. He finds it difficult to break the vicious circle of war. Tad Diymadferth? has voiced a parent’s deepest fears. They are poems which make us think. They encourage us not be helpless.
As well as studying at Swansea University, Aneirin also works as a poet and freelance broadcaster. Born in Llanrwst, he spent his early years in Pontardawe before the family moved to Pontypridd, where he was educated at Ysgol Gyfun Gymraeg Rhydfelen. He graduated in French and Spanish at New College, Oxford. He became interested in languages at a young age, as he was brought up in a trilingual household, where he and his brother spoke Welsh, Breton and English.
Aneirin has won a number of prizes for poetry, including the Emyr Feddyg Scholarship at the Newport Eisteddfod in 2004, the Urdd Eisteddfod Chair in Cardiff in 2005, and the Eisteddfod’s telyneg competition at Wrexham in 2011. His first volume of poetry, O Annwn i Geltia (Cyhoeddiadau Barddas), won the poetry category at the Book of the Year Awards in 2013, and he has just published a new volume of poems, Bylchau (Cyhoeddiadau Barddas).
Aneirin performs his poetry with Tir Iarll and Y Deheubarth, the ymryson team at the National Eisteddfod. He enjoyed two years as the Children’s Laureate from 2013 to 2015, and he published his first volume of poems for children last year, Agor Llenni’r Llygaid (Gomer). He was a well-known face on the daily television series, Wedi 7 and Heno for almost a decade, and on Sam ar y Sgrîn and Y Barf. He was also a rapper with the Hip Hop groups, Y Diwygiad, Genod Droog and the Datgyfodiad.
He lives in Pontyberem with his wife, Laura and daughter Sisial, with a brother or sister for Sisial on the way. The sequence of poems for the Chair responds to two things: being the father of a four year old daughter and the prospective father to a new baby, and the turbulent year we have seen across the world, with wars and terrorism, and seeing the politicians’ rhetoric becoming more extreme. He feels helpless in the face of these forces. This all leads him to worry about the world our children will inherit in years to come.
Picture credit: National Eisteddfod/ Alun Llywelyn
- Monday 8 August 2016 12.50 BST
- Monday 8 August 2016 12.49 BST
- Catrin Newman