Sir Derek Walcott/Dylan Thomas Prize – Poetry News Roundup March 28th

This poetry news round-up features an article about an event that took place to mark the first anniversary of the death of Sir Derek Walcott and also looks at this years shortlist for the International Dylan Thomas Prize.

Sir Derek Walcott Remembered

Last weekend a “Poems and Music in Memory of Sir Derek Walcott” evening took place to mark the first anniversary of the passing of the St Lucian poet. The event was organised as part of a collaboration between the Saint Lucia School of Music and the Embassy of the Republic of Venezuela and a number of Walcott’s friends including his partner Sigrid Nama.

The evening was not about sadness but an occasion for people to come together and enjoy good poetry. In total 7 of Walcott’s poems were recited first in English and then in Spanish. This was followed by a number of poems from other poets. The who evening interspersed with haunting music from the Saint Lucia School of music and also the eight-year-old daughter of the Venezuelan Ambassador.

On display during the evening was a portrait of the Ambassador which had been painted by the poet and a selection of his other paintings, some of which were on loan from private collections.

International Dylan Thomas Prize Shortlist

This year’s shortlist for the Dylan Thomas Prize has been released and it contains a significant number of debuts. A number of the works on the list explore themes that include toxic relationships, masculinity and sexual violence, and stories that follow the mood of the #MeToo movement are very much in evidence.

This is the 10th annual award and marks 65 years since the death of Dylan Thomas. The competition is open to any writers aged 39 or under and from any nation writing in English. The £30,000 prize if the largest literary prize in the world for younger writers.

The shortlisted entries include a novel by British novelist Gwendoline Riley which has previously been shortlisted for the Bailey’s Women’s Prize for Fiction as well as the Goldsmith’s prize. There is a debut novel from Sally Rooney, an Irish novelist.

Just one poet has made the shortlist this year, Zambian- born Kayo Chingonyi. He has been shortlisted for his debut poetry collection Kumakanda. The collection explores the rights of passage that young boys go through to become men, the intersection between masculinity and race and what it is to be British whilst at the same time being far from British.

The winner of the award will be announced on 10th May at a ceremony that will take place at Swansea University in the Great Hall.

Those authors who have reached the shortlist will also be given the opportunity to take part in the DylanED programme. This is an initiative that was set up by the University to run alongside the prize, it is hoped that it will engage young people with both the cultural history of Wales and international literature. The authors will run workshops and masterclasses in colleges and local schools.

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