by Mab Jones

For the sixth year running, we’re delighted to again be offering a poetry writing competition to celebrate International Dylan Thomas day. This element of the celebration began with the Day when it was coordinated by Literature Wales, and by myself, in its second and third year. In the beginning, it was a comp called Dylan’s Great Poem.

Image: Literature Wales

When the Day finished its three-year allocation of funding from Welsh Government, it naturally became the endeavour of Hannah Ellis, Dylan Thomas’s granddaughter, who is now Creative Director of the Day. She also proposed that the competition be renamed Love the Words, after a phrase used by the great poet himself.

Since then, Love the Words has gone from strength to strength. As usual, this year the competition is open to anyone, anywhere, of any age, and writing in any language. This time around, we’ve made the Japanese haiku form our chosen format for your creative entries. A haiku is a short 3 line poem, usually a snapshot of something small and everyday around you, but intimating a much larger theme such as love, loss or hope.

Hannah said:

“Like many people, I follow the goings on of my friends and acquaintances via social media. One particular friend that lives in New Zealand had spent her summer months going to wine and food festivals, music concerts, having meals out and going to the pub. Seeing her photos gave me a desperate yearning for some sense of normality. I was feeling depressed and ground down. I was angry and frustrated that mistakes had been made that resulted in children missing up to seven months of school, that single people were left alone and isolated and many others had been thrown into poverty. Not to mention the fear that because infection rates had been allowed to rise and get out of control that new variants of this wretched virus were appearing.

That strength of feeling was ever present when Mab, Andrew and I met via Zoom to plan International Dylan Thomas Day 2021. This year, we were reluctant to have a competition that had winners and losers. We wanted something that was inclusive and allowed participants to share their contributions. We want to give you the opportunity to express what you’ve been through, perhaps to consider where you are now and what your next steps could be. We have all been through a trauma of sorts and, while it will take time to recover, our hope is that the Love the Words poetry share will be a starting point in that process.”

Find out more about the haiku share and how to take part on this website. You may join in via social media or by sending your poem, or poems, to us by email. Additionally, we’re also running the Dylan Thomas Photo Share once again. As before, this will be coordinated by Andrew Dally, who I worked with when I was the coordinator of International Dylan Thomas Day and who has been there from its inauguration. He runs the popular Dylan Thomas News blog in addition.

In his words:

“Each year we aim to create a visual challenge for Dylan Thomas fans, and this year we hope they’ll participate in the Dylan Thomas Photo Share by making a photograph, short video or artwork to share on social media. We’ve been delighted by the amazing creativity that Dylan’s work has inspired since Dylan Day was founded in 2015, and we look forward to seeing what this year brings.”

Already, haiku are trickling in, feel free to add your voice to the mix! Our aim is to gather a range of voices and views from across the globe and share them in our free Dylan Day ebook on 14 May (please share by midnight 1 May if you’d like to be included). The hope is to inspire, to intrigue, and to engender, through this great sharing, the realisation that we are not alone. Personally, I’m delighted to be part of the Day in 2021, and to be running Love the Words with Hannah, and also with Andrew, as before. We all warmly encourage you to take part!