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Menna Elfyn

Menna  Elfyn

Menna Elfyn

(Verenigd Koninkrijk, 1951)
Menna Elfyn is an award-winning poet and playwright from Wales who writes in Welsh but whose work has been translated into over twenty languages. She has published fourteen collections of poetry, children’s novels, libretti for UK and US composers as well as plays for television and radio.
Her most recent bilingual collections are Bondo 2017 and Murmur 2012, published by Bloodaxe Books, the latter was selected as the Poetry Book Society Recommended Translation in Autumn 2012, the first book of Welsh poetry in English translation ever to be chosen. Her most recent book of poetry in Welsh Merch Perygl (Danger’s Daughter) appeared in 2011. She received the Anima Intranza International Foreign Poetry Prize in 2009 and has also been nominated for the Evelyn Encelot prize for women poets. Her work is studied in schools and universities in Wales as well as further afield. She has won a number of awards such as Book of the Year for Aderyn Bach mewn Llaw (Bird in Hand), in 1990, and shortlisted for the same prize with Blind Man’s Kiss (Cusan Dyn Dall, 2001). The anthology she co-edited with John Rowlands was selected as the Poetry Book Society Recommended Translation in 2003. She was also awarded a Creative Arts award from the Arts Council of Wales to write a book on sleep, and Cwsg was published in 2019. Her biography of Eluned Phillips, a renowned Welsh woman poet, Optimist Absoliwt was shortlisted for Book of the Year in 2017 and was published in English with Honno Press in 2018.

She has been a features columnist with the national newspaper of Wales, the Western Mail since 1995. During the seventies and eighties, she campaigned as a member of Cymdeithas yr Iaith (the Welsh Language society) and was imprisoned twice for non-violent offences in acts of civil disobedience. As a peace campaigner she was arrested at the US army base in Brawdy in the eighties, and is a member of the Peace and Reconciliation movement, ‘Cymod’.

She has written a number of libretti and her most recent work, the opera Gair ar Gnawd (Word on Flesh) with composer Pwyll ap Siôn was commissioned by the Welsh National Opera and subsequently televised in 2014.  In 1999, she was a librettist of ‘
Garden of Light, a choral symphony for the New York Philharmonic Orchestra and performed in the Lincoln Centre, New York. An advocate of children’s rights, she wrote a book for Save The Children Fund & Welsh Women’s Aid, Hands Off (English) and Dim Llais i Drais (Welsh). She has also written a novel about the street children of Mexico based on her time in Puebla, as well as a novel whose main character was a female child soldier. She was made Poet Laureate for the Children for Wales in 2002.

She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, The Royal Literary Fund, Aberystwyth University Fellow, Honorary Fellow at Trinity Saint David where she is also Emerita Professor of Poetry and Creative Writing.  She is President of Wales PEN Cymru and continues to campaign for the free expression of writers worldwide.
© Robert Minhinnick
Baggage Carousel
Litany on Beginning a Burial
Stone Poem

In English, Welsh
Menna Elfyn
Poet’s own site.

In English
Publisher’s site.

In English, Welsh, Spanish, Italian
Online texts and biography.

[first published in 2005, updated November 11, 2020]
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