Poet wins the National Eisteddfod Crown two years after submitting entry at the start of lockdown
A poet has won one of the National Eisteddfod’s most prestigious awards, the Crown, over two years since submitting her entry before the first lockdown began.
Esyllt Maelor from Morfan Nefyn, Gwynedd came out top in a competition which attracted 24 entries at this year’s event in Ceredigion.
The Eisteddfod had been postponed twice due to the Covid pandemic, in 2020 and 2021.
The adjudicators of the prize were Cyril Jones, Glenys Mair Roberts and Gerwyn Wiliams.
Cyril Jones began his adjudication from the stage with the question on everyone’s lips, “Will Tregaron become ‘the crown town’? That’s the big question on your mind this afternoon for sure.
“You’ll get the answer to that question soon. It’s only fair, you’ve had to wait two years. But remember, the two dozen poets who’ve competed have had to wait two years and four months.
“Yes, you’re right – these poems were sent to the competition right at the start of the first lockdown, at the beginning of April 2020.”
The Crown is presented by Derwen Stud and International Welsh Cob Centre, and was designed by artist, Richard Molineux. It’s presented for a ‘pryddest’ or collection of poems not in cynghanedd, of no more than 250 lines, on the subject of Gwres (Heat). The prize money is also donated Ifor and Myfanwy Lloyd, from Derwen Stud.
Adjudicator Cyril Jones said: “What about the competition? Well, these words from Gerwyn, my co-adjudicator, in his written criticism reflect the opinion of the three of us: ‘the quality of the competition was pretty average,’ but he goes on to say ‘once we got to the merit class, it became a competition, and I was delighted,’ And there we go. Now you know – yes, Tregaron will become ‘the crown town’…
“Samiwel looks for meaning for our earthly journey amidst the details of our daily life here in Wales and its borders. This is how the three of us reacted – separately – after reading Samiwel’s poems. ‘I’m speechless’ said Gerwyn (and Gerwyn isn’t one to be struck dumb very often!); ‘The originality of the images sometimes blew me away’ were Glenys’ words. And I said: ‘before I got to the end of the first poem I’d stood up and was reading the second poem out loud.’
“And I’ll now try to explain why these poems had such an impressive impact on us. ‘This is a poet who takes us on a creative and emotional journey – this is a master in handling our language’, said Gerwyn, summing it all up neatly. ‘The poet knows how to provoke understanding and feeling,’ says Glenys.
“It was a privilege to adjudicate this competition with Glenys and Gerwyn and a privilege also to be a judge in my home county on such a notable competition. All three of us would have loved to crown Kairos and Dyn Bach Gwyrdd. We hope that they’ll both publish their poems soon. But completely independently of each other, before we discussed anything, the three of us were in agreement that Samiwel wins the crown here in Tregaron today.”
Enillydd Y Goron yn @eisteddfod Tregaron 2022 yw Esyllt Maelor o Forfa Nefyn. Llongyfarchiadau mawr!
The winner of The Crown at this year’s National Eisteddfod is Esyllt Maelor from Morfa Nefyn. pic.twitter.com/aFMbi5dgJh
— S4C 🏴 (@S4C) August 1, 2022
Originally from Harlech, Esyllt Maelor was raised and educated in Abersoch, Llŷn before going on to Bangor University where she graduated in Welsh. The influence of her parents, Brenda and Gareth Maelor and her teachers has been important to her, learning from progressive educators such as T Emyr Pritchard and R Arwel Jones while a pupil at Ysgol Botwnnog.
She had a career in education, leading projects and doing consultancy work but nothing gave her more pleasure than collaborating with children and young people and encouraging them to speak publicly and to write.
She said that it was a privilege to go back to her old school in Botwnnog to work as Head of the Welsh Language Department and she owes a huge debt to her former pupils in Brynrefail, Edern and Botwnnog for inspiring her and for showing how important words are. She believes there is a writer in every child and she is proud of the successes of her former pupils who have continued to write and contribute to their communities.
Esyllt was the first woman to win the Urdd Eisteddfod chair back in 1977 in Barry. Between raising children and working, she also published Edith Cwm Cloch, Telynores Eryri (Gwasg Gwynedd) and books for children and young people. She also edited Galar a Fi (Y Lolfa), and this year published Dewch i Mewn (Y Lolfa) a volume of stories for learners, based on a happy collaboration with a group of Welsh language learners in the Nefyn area.
She and her husband Gareth have three children – Dafydd, Rhys and Marged. Her son, Dafydd has influenced these poems, supporting her and encouraging her to write. She’s extremely grateful to the people of the Morfa Nefyn area for their support and encouragement, to special friends who listened to her, to her family for their support and to Aled Jones Williams and the members of the reading group in Llanystumdwy for stimulating her with their positive energy. Esyllt is the Chair of the Literature Committee of next year’s Llŷn and Eifionydd National Eisteddfod.
The Ceredigion National Eisteddfod Crown is a celebration of the culture of the area and of Wales in a series of twelve stained glass facades around the head. Cultural elements include Cardigan Castle, Cors Caron, the red kite, the River Teifi, Strata Florida Abbey and the National Library of Wales.
Using his original designs, Richard Molineux carefully painted mouth-blown glass with oxides, stained it with silver stain and enamelled with coloured frit before firing several times in the kiln.
He used a copper foil technique pioneered by Louis Tiffany in the late 1800s to create a series of 3-dimensional facades. He then placed the glass on a hand-woven copper headband, similar to a basket weaving style, to represent a harvest basket, and the creativity harvested at the Eisteddfod.
Within the head band is a bright red felt cap, embroidered with gold chord by textile artist Elinor McCue in a Celtic knotwork pattern. Around the head band are the words of the 2022 Ceredigion National Eisteddfod, with each letter individually laser-cut from a copper sheet before being enamelled with a two-tone bluish grading in an enamel kiln before being placed on the Crown.
The winning poems will be published on the Eisteddfod website following the ceremony and the Cyfansoddiadau a Beirniadaethau, which includes the full adjudication for this competition and the winners of all the other composition winners at this year’s Eisteddfod will be published at the end of the Chairing Ceremony on Friday afternoon.
The Ceredigion National Eisteddfod is held on the outskirts of Tregaron until 6 August. For more information go online, www.eisteddfod.wales.
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