Poets, prose and the promotion of culture

Three acclaimed poets are to hold an evening of poetry reading to showcase their talent and honour their native languages, Irish and Welsh

Ailbhe Darcy says the event is a great opportunity to put Irish and Welsh traditions in conversation with each other

The event will be held at The Flute and Tankard, just off Windsor Place, on Monday 3 December. Invited to read are two poets from Ireland, Celia de Fréine, who has received many awards for both her English and Irish work and Aifric Mac Aodha, who writes exclusively in Irish. Welsh poet Llŷr Gwyn Lewis, winner of the 2015 Wales Book of the Year Award in creative non-fiction, will also participate.

The event initially arose from a collaboration between two Irish associations, Poetry Ireland and Culture Ireland. They sponsor poetry readings in the UK through a program called Poets in the Cities and aim to promote Irish language, culture and tradition.

Ailbhe Darcy, the organiser of the event in Cardiff, decided to invite Llŷr to start a conversation on the similarities and differences between Welsh and Irish poetry. She explains, “One obvious similarity is this fact of bilingualism. Contemporary Irish poetry takes place in two languages, just like Welsh poetry.”

But she says that the poetry may also belong to two very separate traditions, influenced by different environments. “I’m interested in how these brilliant thinkers approach questions like these about language, nationality and tradition,” she says.

The event poster shows the three poets in the same boat

The poetry will be mostly read in either Irish or Welsh, with some English translations available. Llŷr says you don’t have to understand the words to appreciate them, “Poetry is close music and it can be listened to in the same way,” he says, “For example, with Cynghanedd verses, alliterations and rhyme are very important and everyone can hear those sounds.”

Ailbhe, who is herself an Irish poet living in Wales, says the best poetry provokes new thought in listeners and poems in different languages may do this in unexpected ways.

She hopes the event will interest many people, “It might even lead to some new poetry!”