Secret Women Poets Society Helps Rhiannon Win the Crown
Byline: By Steve Dube Western Mail
A secret society of women poets and the multicultural streets of Oxford helped a 23-year-old to become the popular local winner of the coveted Crown at the Urdd Eisteddfod yesterday.
The competition required three pieces of writing in different styles on the theme of "returning" and Rhiannon Marks, from Cilycwm near Llandovery, opened her contribution with a short story about a group of women poets meeting in secret to write the strict-metre poetry cynghanedd.
She said, "The idea came from a poem by Menna Elfyn who thought that 'anon' poems were written by a woman.
"I liked the idea that women had been writing secretly for ages and my story was based around them coming back."
Her second piece was an essay about herself, inspired by another poet she admires - Dafydd Rowlands.
Rhiannon said, "The closing date of the competition was very near and I read this poem of his that said writing was about putting yourself on paper so I decided to do that.
"I wrote about cycling home from college in Oxford, and thinking about how different the university is with its bizarre traditions like wearing gowns, but as I cycled into the town down this multi-cultural street I thought it's not so odd after all."
The final piece of writing which cemented her win, combined a series of letters about the legendary Lady of the Lake of Llyn-y-Fan, not far from Rhiannon's home village, with Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall.
Rhiannon's imaginary foray into the archives ends with a call from her father on her mobile, telling her that Prince Charles had bought the old home of the Physicians of Myddfai, the possessors of herbal medicine handed down by the magical Lady of the Lake.
"Camilla goes crazy when she sees a woman chanting mysteriously outside and the Royal Family think she's been affected by the strain of buying the house," said Rhiannon.
It was the third time lucky for Rhiannon, after coming second in the Crown competition in 2005 and third last year.
By coincidence Menna Elfyn's daughter Fflur Dafydd, who won the Crown at the National Eisteddfod in Swansea last year, was the Master of Ceremony at yesterday's Crowning.
Dr Dafydd, a Western Mail television columnist, said that the top three in this year's competition were Carmarthenshire writers, and quoted Ray Gravell - Ray o'r Mynydd - saying, "West is best".
Rhiannon said she liked all kinds of literature - authors such as Virginia Woolf, Margaret Atwood and Alice Walker in English, and in Welsh the essays of TH Parry-Williams, the poetry of Dafydd Rowlands, Menna Elfyn and Elin Llwyd Morgan and the novels of Mihangel Morgan. …