One of the major British poetic voices of the 20th century was born in Cardiff in 1913, although nearly all his work was written in rural North Wales. R.S. Thomas has a huge corpus of poetry to his name that has earned respect all around the globe. In 1996 Thomas was nominated for the Nobel Prize for Literature, but he lost out to Seamus Heaney. However, after his death at the age of 87, a memorial tribute was held in Westminster Abbey, where. Heaney, who was his friend, read the eulogy.
Cardiff is lucky today to have many poets alive and writing in both English and in Welsh. Perhaps the literary scene here has never been so dynamic.
Nevertheless, probably one poet stands out today, who can write very convincingly both in English and Welsh – a skill that many strive for but few achieve. Her immortality has been assured by having her words emblazoned across the Millennium Centre, surely a mighty tribute both to her and to the position that poetry still holds in Welsh society. This poet is Gwyneth Lewis who was appointed Wales's first National Poet in April 2005. Gwyneth Lewis was born in 1959 in Cardiff and academically and creatively shone from the beginning, winning prizes in eisteddfodau and other competitions. Having attended a bilingual school in Pontypridd and studied English at Cambridge University, she went on to study at Harvard and Columbia and then worked as a freelance journalist in New York. Gwyneth came back to Britain where she worked in television. In 2001 she was awarded a £75,000 grant by the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts to carry out research and to sail to ports that are linked historically with the inhabitants of her native city, Cardiff. She has published an impressive amount of work, prose and poetry, in both languages which has won prizes in England and Wales. Here is an example from Welsh Espionage Close shave at the station when I asked my way. Ticket collector quizzed me: Did I know The pubs or the chapels better? Got away With mumbling 'Neither' and then leaving fast. I mustn't let on that I speak Welsh Or they're sure to connect me with my past. Her work can also be surrealistic as in The Hedge I had brooches of newly built housing schemes and sequins of coruscating shale; power-lines crackled as they changed their course and woodsmoke covered my face like a veil.