How many people know that the world famous International Welsh Poetry Competition began life in a small, independent pub, tucked away down a quiet side street in Pontypridd? Founded by Welsh writer and poet Dave Lewis in 2007, the contest has been run and organised from the town ever since, is now in its seventeenth year, and is the biggest poetry competition in Wales!
But what makes this competition so special? Some would say the judges, others the sheer quality of the winning entries. But one thing is for sure: the competition is here to stay. This year’s judge is Mick Evans, a former winner of the contest and himself a wonderful writer.
A level playing field
There may be another reason why writers from all over the world love this humble contest, which began life as a drunken conversation between Dave Lewis and John Evans in a Clwb Y Bont backroom at one o’clock in the morning. And that is its honesty and integrity. Unlike in many competitions, your poems are judged anonymously, and no filter judges are used.
This means a complete beginner can compete against a seasoned veteran. A successful, traditionally published author can fight it out with an unknown, self-published blogger. We offer true equality. In a time when corporate greed and influence seem to infect every aspect of our lives and ruin the opportunity for the little guy to succeed, the International Welsh Poetry Competition is a rare beacon of hope.
Pushing the boundaries
I love the underdog. Coming as I do from a no-nonsense town like Pontypridd, I know you’re not going to get given anything for nothing, especially by the establishment that controls the purse strings in Wales. So it’s best you just strike out on your own and go for it.
As organizers go, I’m resolutely untrendy. A poet myself, I shun the limelight and continue to self-publish my often avant-garde work rather than seek acceptance from the mainstream, so I can continue to push the boundaries of my art.
I also run the Poetry Book Awards, the Writers of Wales database, and a small self-publishing company called Publish & Print, where I help other writers get their work into book form and realize their own ambitions. I’ve edited and published three anthologies of all the winners of the International Welsh Poetry Competition so far: The First Five Years, Ten Years On, and The Third One.
International Welsh Poetry Competition open
Past competitions have seen entrants from over 40 countries taking part and this year promises to be no different. There’s £500 on offer to the winner, plus other prizes for the runners-up. The International Welsh Poetry Competition will once again punch above its weight in the literary calendar.
If you want to enter, you can find more details on the official website. The entry fee is just £6 (via post or online), and the closing date is Sunday 4 June 2023. Good luck, and we look forward to reading your entries.
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