Literature Wales names Connor Allen and Casi Wyn as the new Welsh poet laureates for children, following an announcement made on National Poetry Day 2021.
Both begin their two-year tenure this autumn. Allen will take up the role of Children’s Laureate Wales while Wyn will take on the role of Welsh-language Children’s Laureate, Bardd Plant Cymru. The two projects run concurrently, with both Allen – a multidisciplinary artist from Newport – and Wyn – a singer and writer from Bangor – working primarily with young people between the ages of five to thirteen over the next 24 months.
Literature Wales say that the project aims to contribute towards nurturing a “healthier, more creative, and more diverse generation of readers and writers across Wales”. Literature Wales oversee both projects, with Bardd Plant Cymru also supported by the Welsh government, S4C, Books Council of Wales and Urdd Gobaith Cymru.
Allen was a Jerwood Live Work Fund recipient in 2021. His genre-blending work crosses the mediums of poetry, spoken word and theatre and frequently explores the themes of grief, love, masculinity, identity and ethnicity. He commented:
“I grew up on a council estate in Newport, and poetry and the arts were always seen as a big, giant mammoth high above us,” Allen said. “The opportunity to demystify poetry and present it as a simple expression of how you feel is one of the key reasons I wanted to be Children’s Laureate Wales. Children and young people have so much to say, especially today in 2021, and offering them an outlet to express how they feel about the world and themselves is just beautiful.”
As well as her profile as a singer-songwriter, Wyn is a founder of the independent magazine and publisher Codi Pais which seeks to platform new and diverse voices. She has published two musical books for children this last year, and her short animation “Dawns y Ceirw” was broadcast on S4C on Christmas Eve in 2020.
Speaking on the role, Wyn said: “There is no force that can rival that of literature and music, this is what unites us as humans. The role of Bardd Plant Cymru is incredibly vast, and I’m looking forward to meeting the children of Wales across the land, and hearing their unique, diverse voices […] the world is changing at a rate that we’ve never seen before – our goal is to be open to new ideas and ways to process our experiences. The children can guide me in this. I can’t wait to get started!”
Lleucu Siencyn, CEO of Literature Wales, said: “When children have the opportunity to meet an author, whether in the classroom, at a festival or on Zoom, they’re introduced to a world of creativity, which offers a wealth of personal benefits. As well as being excellent writers, Connor Allen and Casi Wyn are both natural performers, and I’m certain they’ll draw on their many talents to inspire the children and young people of Wales to explore their creative voices. Our younger generations have so many important things to say, and I for one can’t wait to hear them.”
More information about Literature Wales and their projects can be found here.