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My Life in Verse

12 June 2009

Cerys Matthews

Welsh singer-songwriter Cerys Matthews has travelled back to her roots to explore the legacy of Celtic poetry, with some help along the way from the School of Welsh.

Professor Sioned Davies, head of the School of Welsh, features in My Life in Verse which will be broadcast on Friday 12 June at 9pm on BBC 2. Cerys visited Cardiff earlier in the year to record the interview with Professor Davies at the University's Special Collections and Archives (SCOLAR) library.

My Life in Verse sees Cerys trace the evolving role of the poet in society from the earliest Welsh bards, exploring the ways that poets have shaped Celtic identity.

Professor Davies said: "I actually taught Cerys a number of years ago when she was a student here in Cardiff so it was wonderful to welcome her back. We discussed the work of subversive 14th century poet Dafydd ap Gwilym who had clearly made an impression on her, as did ‘cynghanedd’ or strict metre poetry in general.

"She was particularly thrilled when I told her that a contemporary poet, Ceri Wyn Jones, had composed a poem about her in ‘cynghanedd’, called ‘Cerys Catatonia."

During her visit to Cardiff, Cerys also had the opportunity to discuss poetry with several of the School’s students, and was interested to learn that oral poetry is still as important now as it was in the middle ages, with students taking part in slam poetry competitions.

As well as Cardiff, Cerys’s travels take her to Swansea, Scotland and Ireland to learn more about the role played in Celtic culture by Dylan Thomas, Ted Hughes, Robert Burns, William Butler Yeats, and the poets writing during the Troubles in Northern Ireland.

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