West Wales poet and translator Mererid Hopwood has been named Cymrawd Rhyngwladol Cymru Greadigol Hay Festival/Hay Festival Creative Wales International Fellow for 2020-2021.

A programme funded by Arts Council of Wales, the Fellowship provides an opportunity for a writer from Wales to participate in Hay Festival editions throughout the year in Wales, Mexico, Spain, Peru and Colombia. It is open to exceptional and imaginative, creative individuals, working within the literature art form, providing a unique opportunity for career development, while increasing Wales’ artistic profile internationally. 

Mererid Hopwood is one of Wales’ most celebrated poets with published works including Singing in Chains (2004), O Ran (2009),Poets' Graves/Beddau'r Beirdd (2014) and Nes Draw (2016); her books for children Ar Bwys (2007), Straeon o’r Mabinogi (2012) and Cyfres Dosbarth Miss Prydderch (2016-19); and her translations Seren Lowri (2005) and Geiriau Diflanedig (2019). She is a three-time Eisteddfod prize winner, has been Children's Laureate Wales, and was awarded the Glyndwr prize for her contribution to literature. Her collection Nes Draw won the poetry section of the Welsh language Book of the Year Awards 2016 and won the Tir na n-Og prize for children’s writing in 2018.

Writing mainly in Welsh, Hopwood has degrees in Spanish and German language and literature and has taught throughout her career. She will be leaving her post at the University of Wales, Trinity Saint David in January to take up the Chair of Welsh and Celtic Studies at Aberystwyth University.

Hopwood’s first event in this role will be at the upcoming Colombian edition Hay Festival Digital Cartagena, January 2021, with live and online appearances to follow in Peru, Mexico, Spain and Wales.

Cristina Fuentes de la Roche, Hay Festival international director, said: “Mererid Hopwood is one of the most exciting writers working today. We’re honoured to share her work with new readers around the world and showcase the Welsh language in this way, live and online.”

Hopwood said: “I’m very much looking forward to taking up this fellowship in a year when the traditional boundaries between international, national and local can be dissolved in a way we could barely imagine back in March. I shall do my very best to carry words from Wales to wherever I can and take great care carrying new words back home for sharing. Diolch o galon am y gwahoddiad.”

Nicola Morgan, Senior International Officer at Wales Arts International/Arts Council of Wales, said: “Mererid Hopwood is one of our most celebrated contemporary writers, rooted in Wales and international in outlook.  She is loved for her artistry in bringing ideas and stories alive through the written and spoken word. We are delighted, therefore, that Mererid has been selected as the next Hay International Fellow. In these challenging times, we believe that the arts can help us to understand differences, express what unites us and to make change. It is more important than ever to share and listen to ideas and experiences. Hay Festival, in Wales, and internationally, offers unique space for writers, thinkers, and audiences from across the world to do just this.”

In joining the Fellowship, Hopwood sits alongside an illustrious line-up of writers from Wales that includes Jon Gower, Tiffany Murray, Fflur Dafydd, Owen Sheers, Eurig Salisbury, Jay Griffiths, Jenny Valentine, Dylan Moore, and 2019-2020 fellow Alys Conran. 

On completing his fellowship, writer Dylan Moore said: “The past year has seemed so much longer than that, as each of the festivals has opened up like the tree of the Festival’s new logo: new literary discoveries; incredible travel experiences; wonderful new friends; as well as the seeds for so many future writing projects. Never mind the career boost, the Hay Fellowship will be on the highlights reel at my funeral.”

Find out more about the Cymrawd Rhyngwladol Cymru Greadigol Hay Festival/Hay Festival Creative Wales International Fellow here.