There have been numerous calls for a Welsh Poetry Library over the years. England has two, Scotland has one but Wales, always the poor neighbour has none.
Wales, home of the Eisteddfod bards, one of the oldest languages in Europe and Dylan Thomas has nothing to celebrate our poetic culture.
The Poetry Library at the South Bank Centre in London is open to the public daily, has a great website, puts out a regular newsletter and promotes poetry from across the UK. They even promote the Welsh Poetry Competition (the biggest in Wales) while Literature Wales (who get approx. £1 million a year to promote Welsh literature) do nothing!
Scotland also has its own poetry library – located near Edinburgh’s Royal Mile. It’s open to everyone for research or general reading. Like the English poetry library it too subscribes to most poetry magazines published in the UK and is also open to accepting poetry books from local poets.
Wales does have a national library, in Aberystwyth, but it doesn’t specialise in poetry.
It would be nice if the Poetry Library of Wales was situated in the south Wales valleys, or failing that mid-Wales. This would attract visitors to the valleys and create much-needed jobs.
As well as being able to read and explore the works of Dannie Abse, Ruth Bidgood, Jackie Biggs, Mike Church, Phil Coleman, WH Davies, Menna Elfyn, John Evans, Mick Evans, Jean James, Mike Jenkins, Peter Thabit Jones, Phil Knight, Alun Lewis, Dave Lewis, Kathy Miles, Barry Norris, Sally Spedding, Dylan Thomas, Rhys Trimble, RS Thomas, Gwen Williams, Mogg Williams, Gareth Writer-Davis, and many others who escape my memory at the time of writing, there could be performance spaces, galleries, meeting places for poets and events that draw crowds from across the country. And not forgetting the Welsh language writers too!
A current campaign is calling upon the Senedd to fund one but passing the buck they said this was down to Literature Wales. Mmm? Don’t hold your breath then…