Connor Allen and Casi Wyn have been named as the new Welsh poet laureates for children.
Allen, a poet, actor and multidisciplinary artist from Newport, will take on the role of Children’s Laureate Wales, while singer and writer Wyn from Bangor takes on the role of Bardd Plant Cymru — the Welsh-language Children’s Laureate. Their two-year tenure will begin this autumn.
The two projects will run in parallel, and both poets will contribute towards nurturing a "healthier, more creative, and more diverse generation of readers and writers across Wales", according to Literature Wales, the national company for the development of literature in the country.
They will primarily work with young people aged five to 13. Both projects are managed by Literature Wales, with Bardd Plant Cymru supported by the Welsh government, S4C, Books Council of Wales and Urdd Gobaith Cymru.
Allen was a Jerwood Live Work Fund recipient in 2021. His cross-genre work, which blends poetry, spoken word and theatre, often centres on themes such as grief, love, masculinity, identity and ethnicity.
“I grew up on a council estate in Newport, and poetry and the arts were always seen as a big, giant mammoth high above us," Allen said. "The opportunity to demystify poetry and present it as a simple expression of how you feel is one of the key reasons I wanted to be Children’s Laureate Wales. Children and young people have so much to say, especially today in 2021, and offering them an outlet to express how they feel about the world and themselves is just beautiful.”
In addition to her work as a singer and songwriter, Wyn is also one of the founders of Codi Pais, a magazine and independent publisher which platforms new and diverse voices. In 2021 she published two musical books for children. Her short animation "Dawns y Ceirw" was broadcast on S4C on Christmas Eve 2020.
She said of the appointment: “There is no force that can rival that of literature and music, this is what unites us as humans. The role of Bardd Plant Cymru is incredibly vast, and I’m looking forward to meeting the children of Wales across the land, and hearing their unique, diverse voices.
"The world is changing at a rate that we’ve never seen before – our goal is to be open to new ideas and ways to process our experiences. The children can guide me in this. I can’t wait to get started!”
The laureates were announced on National Poetry Day 2021, an annual UK-wide celebration that encourages all to enjoy, discover and share poetry.
Lleucu Siencyn, chief executive of Literature Wales, said: “When children have the opportunity to meet an author, whether in the classroom, at a festival or on Zoom, they’re introduced to a world of creativity, which offers a wealth of personal benefits. As well as being excellent writers, Connor Allen and Casi Wyn are both natural performers, and I’m certain they’ll draw on their many talents to inspire the children and young people of Wales to explore their creative voices. Our younger generations have so many important things to say, and I for one can’t wait to hear them.”