Gruffudd Eifion Owen has won the Chair at the 2018 National Eisteddfod in Cardiff Bay.
The Pwllheli-born poet and writer clinched the prestigious prize in his first competition at the Brifwyl with a poem on the theme of Porth (gateway or entrance), exploring his generation’s relationship with the digital age.
Written under the pseudonym of Hal Robson Kanu, adjudicators said Gruffudd’s entry was ”so trenchant in the way it deals with experiences which are a way of life for the digital generation.”
Lead adjudicator Ceri Wyn Jones said: ”His greatest triumph may be the fact he has done this in such an accessible way, thanks to his fast moving colloquial style and a wide range of keys, where brand names and swear words are as natural and common to him as strict metre. And as writing poetry comes so easily to him, he hits the target every time, changing his style without affecting the poetry.”
He added the competition was very close – with a poem from ”Gŵr dienw” attracting praise for its ”intelligence, orientation and poetic achievements”.
But according to Rhys Iorwerth: ”Hal Robson-Kanu appeals most to my emotions and makes me think about the meaning of our modern lives. If Gŵr dienw’s work is sure to excite those readers who are fans of the Eisteddfod ‘awdl’, then Hal Robson-Kanu’s work has the potential to excite readers who have never read – or enjoyed – an Eisteddfod ‘awdl’ before.”
It’s been a triumphant week for Gruffudd, who also won the stool at Monday night’s Siwper Stomp event at the Pavilion and the Stomp Werin in Ty Gwerin on Thursday night.
He is also one of three major winners to work on the scriptwriting team for long-running soap Pobol y Cwm – Catrin Dafydd clinched the Crown on Monday with Rhydian Gwyn Lewis winning the Drama Medal on Thursday.
Now living in Cardiff, Gruffudd is a member of the ‘ymyrson’ team for Llŷn and Eifionydd and the Ffoaduriaid ‘talwrn’ team. A former Drama Medal winner at the Urdd Eisteddfod, he published his first collection of poems in 2015, which was nominated for Welsh Book of the Year in the poetry category.
LISTEN: Chair winner Gruffudd Eifion Owen talks to MônFM’s Eisteddfod correspondent Gareth Joy.