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National Eisteddfod of Wales - Major Prose Prize for American

user image 2010-08-06
By: David Thomas Jones
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A university lecturer has become the first American to win a major literature prize at the National Eisteddfod of Wales.

Jerry Hunter won the Blaenau Gwent and Heads of the Valleys National Eisteddfod Prose Medal on Wednesday afternoon.

Mr Hunter now lives in Penygroes, Gwynedd, with his wife, the actress Judith Humphreys, and their two daughters but is originally from Cincinnati, Ohio, USA.

This year's Prose Medal was presented for a volume of creative writing of no more than 40,000 words on the subject 'Adfywiad' (Regeneration) and Mr Hunter, writing under the pseudonym M.W., wrote about the age old relevance of what is today called Post Traumatic Stress.

Nine volumes of work were sent to the competition and 'M.W'.'s work was deemed by adjudicators, Elfyn Pritchard, John Gruffydd Jones and Caryl Lewis, to be the winning entry.

Speaking on behalf of his fellow judges on the Pavilion stage, Elfyn Pritchard said: "The excellence of this volume fully outweighs any weaknesses in it, and when the three of us discussed the works in the competition, we agreed that Gwenddydd by M.W. was not only the best work in the competition but it was also worthy of winning the Blaenau Gwent and Heads of the Valleys National Eisteddfod prose medal."

Jerry Hunter studied English at Cincinnati University, and was introduced to Welsh literature as part of his degree course.

Inspired by the richness of the language and its literature, he decided to come to Wales and learnt the language in an eight-week course in Lampeter. He has an MPhil degree in Welsh from Aberystwyth University and a doctorate in Celtic Languages and Literature from Harvard University.

During his time at Aberswyth University he was a member of Welsh funk band Arfer Anfad.

He now works as reader in the Welsh Department at Bangor University.

He has published four academic books, and one of them - Llwch Cenhedloedd - won the Welsh Book of the Year Award in 2004. He has also published a short novel for children, Ceffylau'r Cymylau and has presented history programmes on S4C.

Jerry Hunter receives the Prose Medal and a financial prize of 750. Both prizes were provided by Ysgol Gyfun Gwynllyw. He also received the first printed copy of the winning work, which is now available to buy from shops on the Maes and across Wales.

Speaking about the winning work, the author said: "With war still affecting our world, someone often hears about the way Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder affects the lives of soldiers and former soldiers.

"Of course, this is not a new thing; the poets and storytellers of Walesin the Middle Ages had ways of discussing the same thing. There is a story about Myrddin Wyllt becoming mad during the Battle of Arfderydd (Arthuret). He went to live in the woods - a mad man of the woods - where he wrote prophetic poetry. He avoided other people and his sister, Gwenddydd, was the only person who was allowed to speak to him.

"My aim was to reveal the age-long aspect of the story by placing it in recent times."

Source www.bbc.co.uk

Dai Williams
08/06/10 03:01:00PM @dai-williams:
Top man well done