The Successful Preseli Poetry Slam! - Span Arts
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The Successful Preseli Poetry Slam!

Throughout this spring and summer Span Arts delivered the second community arts project embedded in the Ein Cymdogaeth Werin project.  The Preseli Poetry Slam | Slam Barddoniaeth y Preseli was a community poetry writing and performance project set in the heart of the Preseli region lead by artist Nia Lewis.  We commissioned exceptional Welsh language poet Karen Owen as the Preseli Poet who was in residence in the county for three periods in May, June and July.

During her residency Karen set about inspiring the people of Pembrokeshire to pick up their pens and write about their lives in the area; their thoughts and feelings about the landscape and the people.  The resulting poems are personal, sensitive and thought-provoking reflections on Preseli life from a variety of perspectives.

The project was genuinely bilingual and gave a creative platform for people to engage with the language no matter what their level of competence, it was passion and enthusiasm which came to the fore.  As Karen remarked, ‘these are all Welsh poems, no matter what language they have been written in’.

Prosiect anhygoel o dda!  Really enjoyed the workshop and surprised myself by writing in Welsh for the first time in years.  Karen is inspirational, tu hwnt!’

Workshops took place in schools, pubs, village halls and one-to-one sessions in the homes of isolated and elderly participants.  This diverse array of community poets gave rise to a rich engagement with the subject matter and language and Karen’s personable manner converted even the most reluctant to poets to write and later perform.

The passion for The Preseli’s & the land where we are so fortunate to live, was very moving…. It was a thoughtful, soul provoking evening with a lot of hwyl.  Can we do it again?

Pictured above – Project Leader Nia Lewis, Poet Karen Owen and Sophie Jenkins PLANED

The project culminated in a celebratory Poetry Slam |Slam Barddoniaeth at Newport Memorial Hall.  All participants were invited to come along and perform their poems to an audience of their peers, to share a drink and some food.  The evening was a great success full of laughter, birdsong and some moving performances.  Twenty-one community poets came along to read around thirty poems to an attentive crowd.  When the audience were invited to give their feedback in the form of a poem, many rose to the challenge.   Karen polished off the event with a dynamic premiere of her new poem written in response to the project.

Click here to read her poem.

The Slam event was a fitting close to a project which has unearthed stories and talent among the people of Pembrokeshire, with the right inspiration, structure and encouragement they flourished.

‘The whole process, both workshops and the final gathering have been so worthwhile and enjoyable.  A lovely mix and mutually supportive groups. Diolch yn fawr iawn’

Projects such as Stitching Stories | Pwytho Straeon and the Poetry Slam |Slam Barddoniaeth continue to build an appetite for expressive projects which focus on the inherent experience of the community channelled through a creative lens.  Span Arts relish to opportunity to work in this way with communities and individuals who may have limited access to artistic expression.  The overwhelmingly positive response of the community to these projects affirms the need for a coordinated approach to their conception and delivery.

 ‘No expectations here, but I witness a diversity of characters pouring out their hearts, embracing (tentatively) bilingualism.  Moving and being moved by unexpected muses’

Watch our video about it here:

Video filmed and edited by Sharron Harris