Author wins Eisteddfod Crown inspired by pandemic – after 18 month wait
After an 18-month wait, it was revealed tonight that the winner of the Urdd Eisteddfod Crown 2020-21 is author Megan Angharad Hunter from Penygroes, Gwynedd.
Throughout this week, the Urdd Eisteddfod is awarding composition and creation work that was submitted in 2020, before having to postpone the national youth festival due to Covid-19.
Since submitting her winning piece to the Urdd 18 months ago, Megan has won the 2021 Welsh-language Wales Book of the Year Award with her debut novel, tu ôl i’r awyr. Prior to that, she came second to winning the Crown at the Urdd Cardiff and the Vale Eisteddfod in 2019.
“This past year has been absolutely surreal,” says Megan, who is now in her third year of studying Welsh and Philosophy at university. “From publishing tu ôl i’r awyr in November of 2020, winning the Wales Book of the Year Award with that novel, and now being crowned by the Urdd!
“This whole experience just makes me so grateful for all the support I’ve received – we’re so lucky here in Wales to have these opportunities to experiment and develop our skills as writers.”
Megan receives a Crown which has been designed and created by the sculptor Mared Davies, who decided to interpret the pandemic within her design.
“How to convey the interruption of Covid-19 in a crown? By doing what I do best, which is to combine the soft, colourful materials with hard, darker materials – textiles with metals,” she said.
“Even though the crown explores a hard time in our lives, visually, it is appealing to the eye through the play of spirals, texture, colour.
“A crown is not something we wear every day, so it was very important to me to create a more sculptural crown with the use of the head armature. I also could not resist creating a mask on the armature because the mask has become one of the most important things in our lives that enables our new ‘normality’.”
The Urdd crown is awarded for the best piece, or pieces of literature over 4,000 words. According to judges and authors Siân Northey and Casia Wiliam, there was “little doubt” between them that Megan (who competed under the pen-name Lina) captured the Crown, and that her characters would stay with them for a long time:
“It is such a relief when there is little doubt from both judges as to who is the winner. Lina’s work is an ambitious piece that takes us well into the future, and the author has a mastery over language that enables them to use an academic style for one piece and letters written by a child for the rest. The characters will stay in our memories for a long time. Congratulations to Lina, who fully deserves the Urdd Crown.”
The Urdd also announced that Osian Wyn Owen from Y Felinheli came not only second but also third place in the competition. Osian won the Main Poetry Award at the Urdd’s digital Eisteddfod T in 2020, and Chair at the Urdd Eisteddfod in 2018.
The winners and runners up of the Eisteddfod Crown, Chair and Drama Medal will be awarded a free place on a course at Tŷ Newydd Writing Centre. The aim of the course is to encourage the young writers to continue with their writing under the tutelage of a professional author or poet.
This year for the very first time, the Urdd Eisteddfod will be publishing a collection of the prize-winning literature, titled ‘Deffro’. It has been curated by two past winners: creative editor Brennig Davies and illustrator Efa Lois.
With the support of the Books Council of Wales, printed and digital copies will be available to buy from Friday, 22 October.
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