The first International Dylan Thomas Day is launched

13 May 2015

The magic of Thomas’s poetry is brought to life by his granddaughter and a replica of his writing shed at a school in East London. An appeal to create a new 100 line poem inspired by his words is launched.

Today, Thursday 14 May 2015, is the first International Dylan Thomas Day  –  a day to celebrate the life and words of the Welsh poet Dylan Thomas, organised by Literature Wales and funded by Welsh Government.

On Wednesday 13 May, the poet’s granddaughter, Hannah Ellis and Martin Daws, the Young People’s Laureate of Wales visited St John Cass’s Foundation and Redcoat School in East London with a replica of Thomas’  infamous Writing Shed to formally launch the first International Dylan Thomas Day. At the launch they announced an appeal to create a new 100 line-bilingual poem inspired by Dylan Thomas’s words. 

Dylan’s Great Poem, which opens for submissions on Thursday 14 May at 9.00 am invites anyone aged between 7 and 25 years old, living anywhere in the world, to submit up to four lines of poetry written in English or Welsh inspired by the theme  ‘our community’. Entries need to be sent via the Developing Dylan 100 website before 12.00 noon on Tuesday 20 May. To submit lines visit  www.developingdylan100.co.uk

Martin Daws and Aneirin Karadog, Children’s Poet Laureate of Wales, will select the best lines from those submitted and edit them to create a 100 line bilingual poem. Dylan’s Great Poem will be revealed on Friday 22 May and will be performed live at the Hay Festival on Sunday 24 May.

Hannah Ellis said:  "This is a very exciting moment  –  the first ever Dylan Day to celebrate the magic of my grandfather’s writings.  It’s very inspiring to be able to meet young people and see their passion and enthusiasm for his poetry and for writing their own words.  I can’t wait to read the new poem and know we will be rewarded with something very unique and special."

Martin Daws, the Young People’s Laureate of Wales, ran writing workshops with Year 7 students at St John Cass’s Foundation and Redcoat School, and will be encouraging members of the public to enjoy some of Thomas’ poetry from inside the replica Writing Shed at the St David’s Centre in Cardiff today. He will also be writing  ‘take away poems’ on demand.

Martin Daws said:  "Inspiring a new generation to discover the poetry of Dylan Thomas and to get them writing their own lines as part of one big shared project is a very fitting way to mark the first Dylan Day."

All over the UK, and in New York, Brussels, New Zealand and Italy, people will be celebrating the magic of Dylan Thomas’ poetry.  A series of walks, talks, exhibitions and readings are programmed for the coming weeks: The 92Y Poetry Center in New York, which first presented Thomas’ Under Milk Wood on 14 May 1953, will re-broadcast the reading of the famous play for voices led by the Welsh actor Michael Sheen which was first broadcast during the centenary celebrations in 2014; A Dylan Odyssey - a collection of Thomas-inspired literary tours will be published; at Swansea University, a notebook bought by the University last year for  £104,500 which shows the early work of the poet, will go on public display for the very first time; on Twitter there is a campaign to share photographs of oneself  ‘reading Dylan in unusual places’ with the hashtag  #DylanSelfie.

Welsh Government Deputy Minister for Culture, Sport and Tourism, Ken Skates, said:  "It’s fantastic that the first International Dylan Thomas Day has such an exciting line up of events across the world and I’m pleased that the Welsh Government has been able to support this first year.  This day will become a legacy for the festival, and the interest which was shown in Dylan Thomas and Wales during the centenary celebrations will keep its momentum through this annual focal point."

Lleucu Siencyn, Chief Executive of Literature Wales, the organisers of the International Dylan Thomas Day, said:  "International Dylan Thomas Day is an exciting and lasting legacy to the centenary celebrations in 2014. During the centenary year we brought nearly 12,000 young people aged between 7 and 25 into contact with the work of Dylan Thomas  – some of them for the very first time.  Today we would like to reach even more young people and to inspire them to help us create another epic collaborative poem, and we are incredibly grateful to Welsh Government for supporting such an important literary scheme."

To find out more about International Dylan Thomas Day and Dylan’s Great Poem visit   www.literaturewales.org/dylan-day/

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