The Poetry Book That's a Must for Those Who Treasure Our Long, Proud Heritage. ARTEFACTS ARE INSPIRATION FOR WORKS BY TOP WRITERS

Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), January 26, 2012 | Go to article overview

The Poetry Book That's a Must for Those Who Treasure Our Long, Proud Heritage. ARTEFACTS ARE INSPIRATION FOR WORKS BY TOP WRITERS


Byline: SION MORGAN

* OME of Wales' most cherished national treasures have become the inspiration for a new collection of poetry featuring the nation's most esteemed writers.

A poem by fallen soldier Hedd Wyn, the famous Black Book of Carmarthen, a self-portrait by Sir Kyffin Williams and a book of remembrance from the Aberfan disaster were just some of the 26 artefacts recently removed from their safe confines within Aberystwyth's National Library building.

Leading poets and writers such as Gillian Clarke, the national poet ofWales, were given only a couple of hours with one treasure each before the items were returned to the temperature-controlled vaults that crowd the library's lower levels.

The 26 Treasures book, a joint project compiled alongside the Ulster Museum and the National Museum of Scotland, is designed to put voices to treasures across the British Isles - 26 from Aberystwyth, 26 from Belfast and 26 from Edinburgh.

A National Library spokesman said: "The book will be the world's first anthology of 'sestudes' - a new literary form of 62 words devised especially for the projects from which the book has arisen.

"The Wales section of the book features 26 pieces of writing - 13 in Welsh and 13 in English, each inspired by a piece in the library's collection.

"Each sestude was translated into the other language, while keeping to the rule the translation must also be exactly 62 words."

Writers were paired at random with the objects - from a film of Lloyd George meeting Hitler to a self-portrait by Shani Rhys-James - and given six weeks to come up with their response.

John Simmons, one of the project's founders, said: "26 Treasures releases well-crafted and deeply felt words about precious objects. These give us all unexpected and personal insights into the library's collection."

A spokesman for the 26 Treasures project added: "The aim of the project was to tell the stories behind the objects and inspire visitors to the library (or viewers of the collections online) to see the treasures in a new light."

In Northern Ireland, 26 writers including Michael Longley and Paul Muldoon have collaborated with visual artists to produce a visual and verbal response exhibited at the Ulster Museum.

And in Scotland, 26 writers produced pieces in English, Scots and Gaelic. Visitors can see these at the National Museum of Scotland.

The Welsh treasures include: * A recording of language campaigner Evan Roberts leading a revival meeting in 1904, which was the subject of a poem by Ifor ap Glyn; * A map of Wales created by Humphrey Llwyd, a leading member of the Renaissance period in Wales, which was the subject of Sian Northey's sestude; * Llyfr Aneirin, a late 13th century Welsh manuscript containing Old and Middle Welsh poetry attributed to the late sixth century, was paired with Gillian Clarke, and; * An original score of the national anthem Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau, which became writer Alastair Creamer's subject piece.

The remaining featured Welsh treasures are: * An old family tree reaching back to the age of Adam; * A copy of 20th-century Welsh children's book Llyfr Mawr y Plant; * Yn y Llyfr Hwn, the first book printed in Welsh; * A photograph of Maerdy Women's Support Group marching for their mining husbands; * The Hengwrt Chaucer, an early 15th-century manuscript of the Canterbury Tales; * A powerpoint presentation on Y Lleuad Uwch Pumlumon (The Moon above Pumlumon); * A film called Hwyl a Sbri gyda Sefydliad y Merched, Thrip Ysgol Sul Brynsiencyn (Fun and Games with the Brynsiencyn Sunday School Trip); * An image of The Two Sisters of Llanfechell; * A volume of The North American Indian by E. …

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