Hanan Issa. Picture by Camera Sioned / Literature Wales

Hanan Issa announced as National Poet of Wales

Literature Wales have named Welsh-Iraqi poet, film marker, and artist Hanan Issa the new National Poet of Wales.

Hanan Issa is the co-founder of the Cardiff open mic night Where I’m Coming From, and her recent work has included a poetry collection My Body Can House Two Hearts and contributions to Welsh (Plural): Essays on the Future of Wales and The Mab.

Hanan Issa will be in be in post as the National Poet of Wales for the next three years (until 2025). She is the fifth poet take on the role and was selected from a public call for nominations, which was followed by an extensive selection process. The role will entail the celebration of writing from Wales at home and abroad, with the aim of addressing the big issues our time through poetry, and inspiring others to use their creative voice to generate positive change.

Previous National Poets of Wales include: Ifor ap Glyn, Gillian Clarke, Gwyn Thomas and Gwyneth Lewis. Literature Wales have said that as the National Poet of Wales, Issa will epresent the diverse cultures and languages of Wales and act as an ambassador for the people of Wales.

Speaking on her appointment, Hanan Issa said: “Poetry exists in the bones of this country. I want people to recognise Wales as a country bursting with creativity: a land of poets and singers with so much to offer the arts. I’d like to continue the great work of my predecessors in promoting Wales, Welshness, and the Welsh language outside of its borders. More than anything, I want to capture the interest and inspiration of the public to see themselves in Welsh poetry and encourage a much more open sense of what Welshness is.”

Ifor ap Glyn, the outgoing National Poet for Wales, praised his successor, saying: “Hanan is a thoughtful and engaged poet whose work I admire and she will bring a fresh voice to the national conversation. Croeso mawr i Hanan!”

Panellist Casia Wiliam, the former Bardd Plant Cymru (Welsh-language Children’s Poet Laureate) said: “This is a poet who writes widely, her words are like ribbons weaving languages and cultures together, she broadens the mind and sharpens the eyes. If you’re not already familiar with her work, go and look for it immediately. I can’t wait to see what Hanan will achieve in the role.”

More information on Hanan Issa and her new role is available here.