A Festival Fit for a Poet

By Nicola McAndrew

If you’re a university student new to Swansea, or have lived here your whole life, you’ll know by now that this seaside Welsh haven has a lot to offer. From the seemingly endless bays and beaches to visit, to the occasional midnight outing on Wind Street (although not all of us have the sensibility of remembering such nights); there’s something for everybody. However, there’s a particularly special occasion that has arrived, one that’s pretty close to home. The day that marks the birthday of Swansea’s most beloved literary wonder. Exciting, isn’t it? Most should know who I’m referring to by now, (and if not, where have you been?). It is, of course, Dylan Thomas.

Welcome to Uplands, the home of the famous poet.

Thomas is known by many as the prestigious author of works such as Under Milk Wood and Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night. To those of us who live in Uplands, he’s the guy with the fancy mention on the ‘Welcome to Uplands’ sign. He was, of course, born in the Swansea Uplands, marking the place as one of Swansea’s most commemorative locations for poetic genius (although there is also that “More poetry is needed” billboard in the city centre which we can’t forget). The Swansea-born star has been recognised on a global scale for his scholarly works. There’s a ‘Dylan Thomas Prize’, which is awarded annually to acknowledge and celebrate literary pieces in his name. More locally, as many of you may have seen, the Marina in Swansea is home to a commemorative statue of Thomas sitting on a chair. Although this is not the only way Thomas’ memory has been kept alive in his hometown.

Statue of Dylan Thomas in the Swansea Marina

The Dylan Thomas Centre, fittingly situated in the heart of the city, is holding a Festival to honour his work and celebrate his life. Beginning on Thomas’ birthday, 27th October, and lasting a whooping two weeks, there will be plenty to see, read and learn about the famous writer.

There will be exhibitions of his work, tours where you can learn about his early life, and activities such as poetry workshops, which will be fun whether you’re the next William Wordsworth or about as creative as a rusty spoon.

To kick off the celebration, there will be the first tour of Dylan Thomas’ Birthplace. Following this, poets Susie Wild and Hamish Wilson will be launching each of their poetry collection. Tickets are £5 each (with refreshments also being provided). Also joining them will be Uplands sketcher Bill Bytheway, with an exhibition of his work. This will be followed by a fun, interesting and memorable two weeks examining and recognising the brilliance of Dylan Thomas. As Swansea residents, whether originally from here or not, we all have the amazing opportunity to familiarise ourselves with one of Wales’ most famous writers, in the place where he grew up. A man not only appreciated in Wales however, but on a global scale.

So, if you find yourself without anything to do in the next two weeks, pop down to the Dylan Thomas Centre near the Marina and see what they have planned! (Many events are free so no need to worry about the cost). There will be plenty to keep you entertained, and what a better place to do it than in the heart of Dylan Thomas’ home?

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