As a proud scion of one (predominantly) Celtic nation, I’m glad to see literature and poetry winning more recognition and prestige in another. So it’s great to announce that Welsh poet Owen Sheers has been shortlisted for the 2015 St David Awards, “celebrating exceptional people in Wales,” which “annually recognise and celebrate the exceptional achievements of people in Wales. They acknowledge people who are making a real difference for this country – either at home or abroad. They are great marks of distinction and the highest accolades that Welsh Government confers on our citizens nationally.”

Sheers’s literary track record, both in poetry and in other forms with predominantly Welsh focus, is listed in full in his shortlist credentials. One highlight of Sheers’s career which will endear him to most true-green Welsh is that “he was the first ever artist in residence for the Welsh Rugby Union, with his resulting work of non-fiction, Calon, published in 2013.”

Wales as a nation has punched well above its weight culturally for a long time now. From the point of view of Scottish nationalism and literature, it’s interesting to note that Dylan Thomas has pretty much defined the modern Welsh cultural identity just as Robert Burns and Walter Scott did for Scotland. And R.S. Thomas has played a role in modern Welsh nationalism as significant, and contentious, as Hugh MacDiarmid did in Scotland.

So all power to Welsh poets. They may well be one of the Awards’ best exemplars of its ambitions “to reflect and promote the aspirations of Wales and its citizens to be a modern, vibrant country, with a growing reputation as a confident and clever nation valuing innovation, community spirit, and above all its people.”


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