Support our Nation today - please donate here

New award to celebrate emerging Bangor writers

06 May 2024 3 minute read
R. S. Thomas. Celebrated Welsh poet, priest and activist

A new prize at Bangor University celebrates the achievements of emerging writers as a memorial to one of Wales’s most famous poets.

The inaugural R.S. Thomas Literary Award 2024 was presented to Leigh Roberts for gaining the highest mark in her Masters thesis in Creative Writing (English), which is a work of original fiction exploring the cross-generational legacy of 1990s countercultures.

The sponsor of the award, Ali Anwar of the H’mm Foundation, presented her with a Venetian glass trophy at a special event in the Pontio Arts Centre, and Leigh will have the opportunity to publish her work with the H’mm Foundation.


Ali Anwar, Director of The H’mm Foundation said; “We are delighted to sponsor this Award to celebrate R.S. Thomas, his work and his legacy. He was one of the most influential literary figures that Wales has ever produced. Wales is blessed with a wealth of truly inspirational writers and we hope this award becomes another source of inspiration to the new generation.”

Representing the R.S. Thomas Research Centre, its Co-Director Professor Tony Brown noted theimportance of initiatives like the H’mm Foundation in supporting the arts at a challenging time for cultural funding.

He praised the “astonishing freshness and intensity” of the winning piece of writing.

Ali Anwar (L) Leigh Roberts and Prof. Tony Brown (R)

Dream come true

Reacting to the award, Leigh said: “This award means the world to me, and having the chance to publish my work is a dream come true. I am so grateful for this opportunity and I’m excited about everything that’s to come.”

The evening also featured inspiring readings by ten other current or recent MA Creative Writing students,who launched a collection of their own poetry and prose entitled echoECHOecho, which this year’s students had edited, designed and published as part of their degree.

“This prize will highlight the strength of new voices on our writing programme, and the ways in which our students contribute to a vigorous literary culture. I’m particularly glad that the first award has been given forsuch outstanding and unusual work,” said Professor Zoë Skoulding, Director of the MA in Creative Writing (English).

Bird by NietjuhArt via Pixabay

We are pleased to publish a poem by the winner of the inaugural R.S.Thomas Literary Award, Leigh Roberts, which first appeared in the anthology echoECHOecho:

Flesh Wound

The crow clipped me with its bright black beak a neat incision
that cleaned myself of myself
a live red morsel pinned beneath the black sheath of his bird-tongue

me, bleeding expletives
you think I’d give it up where no-one goes but no, skatepark,
quarter-pipe precipice
burnt excretion of bird shit forming the words

consider, all the modes of flesh,
in its various relationships to spirit
from this height,
I see plainly
the massive of death, nose dive

moon fat with blood, and me the hollow bone in the throat
I keep falling from the same dumb height

Support our Nation today

For the price of a cup of coffee a month you can help us create an independent, not-for-profit, national news service for the people of Wales, by the people of Wales.

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Our Supporters

All information provided to Nation.Cymru will be handled sensitively and within the boundaries of the Data Protection Act 2018.