Literature Wales has announced two award-winning poets and performers who will take up the posts of National Poet of Wales and Young People’s Laureate Wales. Ifor ap Glyn will take on the role of National Poet of Wales in May 2016, championing Welsh poetry and taking it to a global stage. Sophie McKeand begins her work as Young People’s Laureate in April 2016, an initiative which gives youth communities the opportunity to develop their creative voices.



The National Poet of Wales is a cultural ambassador role which honours some of the most innovative and highly regarded writers. The National Poet represents the best writing from Wales on the national and international stage, leading campaigns within Wales and appearing at events and festivals worldwide to raise the profile of writing and writers from Wales.

Established in 2005, the first National Poet of Wales was Gwyneth Lewis who was followed by Gwyn Thomas in 2006. The post reached new heights under Gillian Clarke, who has held the position since 2008. During her time as National Poet Gillian Clarke has performed to tens of thousands of people around the world, and has gained many notable commissions and residencies.  

About Ifor ap Glyn:

Born and bred in London to Welsh parents Ifor ap Glyn is a multi-award-winning poet, presenter, director and producer. Ifor has won the Crown at the National Eisteddfod – one of the festival’s most prestigious prizes – on two occasions, first in 1999 and most recently at the Denbighshire and District National Eisteddfod in 2013. From 2008-2009 Ifor was Bardd Plant Cymru, the Welsh-language Children’s Laureate. 

He lives in Caernarfon and works at Cwmni Da, an independent television and film production company of which he was a founding member. He has won several BAFTA Cymru awards for his work including the Lleisiau’r Rhyfel Mawr and Popeth yn Gymraeg series.

Ifor has represented Welsh poetry around the world in both the Welsh and English language, having performed at festivals such as the Smithsonian Folk Life Festival in Washington DC.

On taking on the role of National Poet, Ifor ap Glyn said: “Gillian has taken the role of National Poet to new heights during her tenure, and I'd like to thank her for her tireless efforts in promoting Welsh poetry and literature at home and on the international stage. She has also been instrumental in fostering links with poets from all over the world and helping to bring their work to Wales. These are both paths which I will continue to follow. Writing in Welsh is no bar to connecting with a wider audience, as I have found in the past, from Boston to Brussels and Dublin to Washington, and as the next National Poet of Wales I look forward to promoting what the writers of Wales have to offer in both languages.”

Poet Laureate, Carol Ann Duffy, said: “After the fantastic work by Gillian Clarke as National Poet, it is exciting to see the role pass to a Welsh-language poet who I am sure will help to celebrate the Welsh language, which is among the greatest treasure of these islands.”

Ifor’s first official event as National Poet of Wales will be at the Hay Festival on Tuesday 31 May, where he will perform alongside Gillian Clarke. He will then embark on a UK-wide tour in the autumn.



The Young People’s Laureate initiative aims to inspire self-expression and increase literacy and communication skills in young people. By using a wide range of disciplines the project has been developed to engage the next generation with literature in new and innovative ways. The initiative was launched in October 2011 with Catherine Fisher appointed as first Laureate, and has been developed by performer and poet Martin Daws who has been Wales’ Young People’s Laureate since 2013.

About Sophie McKeand:

Sophie McKeand is a poet and educator from north Wales. She won the Out Spoken Innovation in Poetry Award in 2015, was longlisted for the Poetry Society‘s National Poetry Competition in 2014 and will be the Poet-in-Residence at Focus Wales Festival in 2016. Sophie has performed at numerous festivals and events, and in November 2015 embarked on a Wales-wide tour to coincide with the publication of her second poetry pamphlet Hanes.

She is a writer and producer for various National Theatre Wales TEAM projects, and regularly facilitates workshops for Literature Wales as well as organisations such as Arts Council Wales, Age Cymru and Oriel Wrecsam. She is also a Creative Practitioner for Arts Council Wales’ Lead Creative Schools scheme.

In her new role, Sophie will figurehead some of Literature Wales’ flagship projects for young people including Slam Cymru, Wales’ first bilingual slam competition. She will also run workshops with families and community groups as part of Literature Wales’ Roald Dahl-inspired outreach scheme, Invent your Event.

Sophie McKeand said: “I’m deeply honoured to be the next Young People’s Laureate for Wales. This opportunity to share my love of poetry across our beautiful country is a dream come true and I look forward to collaborating with, and listening to, the many young people of Wales I’ll meet on this incredible two-year journey.”

Steffan Jones-Hughes from Oriel Learning said “Sophie brings her energy and enthusiasm for words and language to every session. She is an excellent communicator and has brought a wide range of skills to our programme. I would recommend Sophie to any organisation that wants to combine literature, poetry, performance and vitality in their activities.”

Chief Executive of Literature Wales, Lleucu Siencyn said: “These two ambassadorial posts are essential for the development of poetry in Wales and in showcasing the best of Welsh writing around the world. Both Ifor and Sophie are poets and performers at the top of their game and we look forward to seeing how they develop these initiatives further as they embark on their new roles.”

The activities of the National Poet of Wales and the Young People’s Laureate
can be followed on the Literature Wales website: www.literaturewales.org

For further information, contact Literature Wales: 029 2047 2266 / post@literaturewales.org

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