Dylan Thomas’s writing shed at Laugharne
Join in with International Dylan Thomas Day (14 May 2015) and help Young People’s Laureate of Wales Martin Daws and Bardd Plant Cymru Aneirin Karadog create Dylan’s Great Poem, a 100-line bilingual poem written by the young people of the world!
Anyone aged 7-25 can submit up to four lines, each up to eight words long under the theme of ‘Our Community’. To enter your contribution to Dylan’s Great Poem simply submit your lines on the Developing Dylan website anytime from 9am on Thursday 14 May to 12 noon on Tuesday 19 May.
The poem will be edited by Martin Daws in English and Aneirin Karadog in Welsh and will be published online on Friday 22 May and performed live by Martin and Aneirin at Hay Festival on Sunday 24 May at 4pm.
We are delighted that Aneirin Karadog has written an exclusive exercise for Young Poets Network, inspiring you to write on the theme.
The white desert of a blank page may seem daunting as you attempt to write a poem. So in order to ensure you arrive at the end successfully, the journey starts before you have begun your poem.
Make a mind map by placing the words ‘Our Community’ in the middle of the page and take a few minutes to note as many words that connect with the subject. Try not to think too hard and go ahead and fill up the page by noting the first things that come to mind. This will feel very liberating.
Once your page has been filled with words, take a moment to look back over the page and see if any ideas or specific directions raise their hands to you and say ‘pick me!’. Think ahead also about the musicality of your poem. Some words may already be rhyming or alliterating or suggesting themselves for the possibility of double meanings or wordplay.
If you feel inspired and excited and have a clear idea of where you want to go, then get going. But you may still be unsure, with the needle of your inner compass spinning like a ballerina in all directions. If so, then get up, take a walk around the room, or fix yourself a glass of water or cup of tea, or do something else briefly. In the meantime your subconscious will be working overtime having been stimulated by your mind map.
By this point, some of you may be up, up, and away and having started writing already. If not then give it a go, you may find that the first direction or even the second or third direction you take are not the correct one, but perseverance pays in the end. You will have eliminated the fruitless journeys by going some of the way (but not too far) before turning back. In most cases I find that poems take hard graft and rarely write themselves due to divine-like inspiration. Those moments do definitely happen, but one shouldn’t depend on them.
So as you have started your poem you may already have had a form in mind for it, be it a free-verse piece, a sonnet, a series of haiku, rhyming couplets or possibly a meter of your own making. If so great, but sometimes the poem can decide for you which form it wishes to take. And that is absolutely fine. There is no right or wrong in writing a poem, only what makes you fulfilled and what doesn’t. You will know deep inside if you are on the right path.
You should now be well on your way, and maybe find yourself taking interesting detours that develop your initial idea. Don’t worry if you haven’t detoured either. It means you are on your way. You are now getting down to the poetry itself, conveying a message, trying to say things in a way that sees the world differently, a vision that will make the audience see in a different way also. Think about the musicality of your poem once again. A good poem will often sing to its receptor. The poem sings because its author made it sing by placing notes and rhythms in place in the form of words. Have fun with this. The experience of writing a poem can and should be a joyous one, even when discussing difficult subjects, the soul is always joyful.
If you reach the end of your journey it may be that as you look back, there need not be a change to your poem. But each word counts in poetry, so make sure you have chosen the best possible ones along the way. Redrafting a poem can be a useful exercise, but sometimes you may be destroying good work. Take your time and let your soul have a say. Deep down you will know when a poem is finished.
And you can turn also to Dylan Thomas himself and his famous play for voices about the community of Llareggub in Under Milk Wood:
To begin at the beginning:
It is Spring, moonless night in the small town, starless and bible-black, the cobblestreets silent and the hunched, courters’-and- rabbits’ wood limping invisible down to the sloeblack, slow, black, crowblack, fishingboat-bobbing sea. The houses are blind as moles (though moles see fine to-night in the snouting, velvet dingles) or blind as Captain Cat there in the muffled middle by the pump and the town clock, the shops in mourning, the Welfare Hall in widows’ weeds. And all the people of the lulled and dumbfound town are sleeping now.
Hush, the babies are sleeping, the farmers, the fishers, the tradesmen and pensioners, cobbler, schoolteacher, postman and publican, the undertaker and the fancy woman, drunkard, dressmaker, preacher, policeman, the webfoot cocklewomen and the tidy wives. Young girls lie bedded soft or glide in their dreams, with rings and trousseaux, bridesmaided by glow-worms down the aisles of the organplaying wood. The boys are dreaming wicked or of the bucking ranches of the night and the jollyrogered sea. And the anthracite statues of the horses sleep in the fields, and the cows in the byres, and the dogs in the wet-nosed yards; and the cats nap in the slant corners or lope sly, streaking and needling, on the one cloud of the roofs.
You can hear the dew falling, and the hushed town breathing.
Extract from Under Milk Wood by Dylan Thomas (Orion)
You can also read last year’s ‘Dylan’s Great Poem’ edited by Owen Sheers and Mari George.
Martin Daws combines modern poetry with hip hop lyricism, free jazz and fiction to create electrifying live performances and recordings of spoken word and music.
Born in Surrey, Martin has lived and worked Snowdonia since 2001, combining his burgeoning career as a spoken word artist with his established freelance business facilitating rap and creative writing workshops with young people.
Martin was runner-up in the John Tripp Award for Spoken Poetry 2007, and second in the Glastonbury Festival Grand Slam 2008. His work has been broadcast by BBC Radio, published in international journals and been performed extensively around the UK and Ireland. Martin is the current Young People’s Laureate for Wales.
Aneirin Karadog was born in Llanelwy and raised in the valleys of South Wales. The son of a Welsh father and a Breton mother, he speaks five languages – Welsh, Breton, French, Spanish and English – and writes poetry in the strict Welsh meter called Cynghanedd and in free verse. He was a member of Hip-Hop outfits Y Diwygiad and Genod Droog.
Aneirin won the National Urdd Eisteddfod Chair in the Millennium Centre, 2005. He has also translated many poems. His first volume of poetry ‘O Annwn i Geltia’ won the Wales Book of the Year Welsh Language Poetry Category in 2013. In 2014 he toured with Dylan Live/Dylan ar Daith, a unique take on Dylan Thomas’ life in America. He is currently the Bardd Plant Cymru.
Published May, 2015