Hay Festival Medal recipients announced for 2023
Hay Festival has today announced the recipients of this year’s Hay Festival Medals to be awarded at the 36th spring edition, 25 May–4 June, in the booktown of Hay-on-Wye.

Awarded annually since Britain’s 2012 Olympic year, the Medals draw inspiration from the original Olympic medal for poetry. With Athena as muse, silversmith Christopher Hamilton crafts them locally.

Recipients for 2023 are Mererid Hopwood (Medal for Poetry), Alice Oseman (Medal for Fiction), Serhiy Zhadan (Medal for Songwriting) and Salman Rushdie (Medal for Prose). Hopwood, Oseman and Zhadan will each receive their Medal live on stage at Hay Festival 2023, while Rushdie will receive his remotely.

Mererid Hopwood has spent her career weaving connections between language, literature, education and the arts. For her poetry, she has won the National Eisteddfod of Wales’ Chair, Tir na n’Og prize, Crown and Prose Medal and Welsh Book of the Year prize. Her lockdown contribution to Hay Festival in 2020 – ‘What’s Wales in Welsh’ – has become one of our most viewed events ever on Hay Player.

Alice Oseman is an award-winning author, illustrator and screenwriter. She has written four YA contemporary novels about teenage disasters – Solitaire, Radio Silence, I Was Born for This and Loveless – and is the creator of LGBTQ+ YA romance webcomic Heartstopper, reaching an even wider audience when the TV adaptation was released on Netflix last year.

Salman Rushdie is a prize-winning novelist who has participated in Hay Festival conversations for decades in the UK and further afield. His latest novel, Victory City, will be launched at Hay Festival 2023 by a panel including Margaret Atwood and Elif Shafak, while he continues his recovery from last August’s brutal attack.

He said: “I’m delighted and proud that my name is being added to the immensely illustrious list of previous recipients of this Medal. I’m only sorry that I can’t be at Hay Festival in person this year, but I hope to rectify that soon.”

Serhiy Zhadan is Ukraine’s rock star poet. Born in Starobilsk, Luhansk Oblast, he is a writer of fiction, poetry and – with his band Zhadan i Sobaky (Zhadan and the Dogs) – songs blending rock, ska and punk. Documenting the struggles of his compatriots caught in a brutal war, he has become one of the country’s most important writers and an essential voice in world literature.

Hay Festival CEO Julie Finch said: “Hay Festival Medals this year will be awarded to honour exceptional work in poetry, fiction, songwriting and prose as we celebrate four groundbreaking storytellers at Hay Festival 2023. This spring’s edition is a beacon, an international symbol of hope for the collective, creative imagination and a better future. Join us.”

Hay Festival is the world’s leading festival of ideas, bringing readers and writers together in sustainable events to inspire, examine and entertain on the edge of the Brecon Beacons National Park. 

This year’s programme launches the best new fiction and non-fiction, while offering insights and debate around significant global issues. Award-winning writers, policy makers, pioneers and innovators take part from around the world, offering big thinking and bold ideas.

Guests include writers Margaret Atwood, Barbara Kingsolver, Eleanor Catton, Max Porter, Jonathan Coe, Leïla Slimani, Fflur Dafydd, Caleb Azumah Nelson, Alys Conran, Richard Ford, Jojo Moyes, Horatio Clare, Natalie Haynes, Richard Osman, Douglas Stuart, Elif Shafak, Katherine May; poets Simon Armitage, Owen Sheers, Carol Ann Duffy, Rufus Mufasa and Michael Rosen; YA star Alice Oseman; children’s heroes Cressida Cowell, Jacqueline Wilson, Julia Donaldson, Connor Allen; music icons Stormzy, Dua Lipa, The Proclaimers, the Levellers,  Judi Jackson, Baaba Maal, Zhadan and the Dogs; comedians Dara Ó Briain, Tom Allen, Jason Byrne, Kiri Pritchard-McLean, Josie Long, Isy Suttie; stars of stage and screen Helena Bonham Carter, Richard E. Grant; politicians and policy makers Sadiq Khan, chief scientific adviser Patrick Vallance; journalists George Monbiot, Alastair Campbell, Marina Hyde, Gary Younge, Lyse Doucet; activist Munroe Bergdorf; economist Mariana Mazzucato; historians Lucy Worsley, Simon Schama, Irene Vallejo; artist Tracey Emin; foodies Mary Berry, Jack Monroe, Ruth Rogers, Andi Oliver and Prue Leith; Thinkers in Residence Laura Bates, Will Gompertz, David Olusoga, Charlotte Williams; and many more. 

Providing exciting new platforms to discover fresh ideas, Hay Festival invites audiences to imagine the world as it is and as it might be. It is a catalyst for change and action, open and accessible to all.

Tickets are on sale now at hayfestival.org/wales or on 01497 822 629.