Jerry Hunter wins 2010 Eistedddfod Prose Medal

Jerry Hunter from Penygroes, Gwynedd is the winner of the Blaenau Gwent and Heads of the Valleys National Eisteddfod Prose Medal, announced during a special ceremony on the Pavilion stage on Wednesday 4  August.

This year’s Prose Medal was presented for a volume of creative writing of no more than 40,000 words on the subject ‘Adfywiad’ (Regeneration).  The adjudicators were Elfyn Pritchard, John Gruffydd Jones and  Caryl Lewis.  9 volumes of work were received and M.W.’s work was chosen by the judges.

Speaking on behalf of his fellow judges on the Pavilion stage, Elfyn Pritchard said: “The  excellence of this volume fully outweighs any weaknesses in it, and when the three of us discussed the works in the competition, we agreed that Gwenddydd by M.W. was not only the best work in the competition but it was also worthy of winning the Blaenau Gwent and Heads of the Valleys National Eisteddfod prose medal.”

Jerry Hunter was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, USA.  He studied English at Cincinnati University, and was introduced to Welsh literature as part of his degree course.  Inspired by the richness of the language and its literature, he decided to come to Wales.  He first came to Lampeter to learn the language for eight weeks before throwing himself into Welsh life in Aberystwyth, where he completed an MPhil degree in Welsh.  Following a period playing in rock bands in Wales and London, he returned to Cincinnati.  He taught in a school in the city centre, worked with Greenpeace, and worked on his father’s farm.  He then attended Havard University to study Celtic Languages and Literature.  After receiving his doctorate  he lectured at Havard for a while before returning to Wales.  He taught in the Welsh Department at Cardiff University before moving to Bangor University where he now works as a reader in the Welsh Department.

He has published four academic books, and one of them – Llwch Cenhedloedd – won the Book of the Year Award in 2004.  He published a short novel for children,  Ceffylau’r Cymylau,  earlier this year,

He lives in Penygroes, Dyffryn Nantlle with his wife, Judith Humphreys and their two daughters, Megan and Luned.

Jerry Hunter  received the Prose Medal and a financial prize of £750.  Both prizes were provided  by Ysgol Gyfun Gwynllyw. He also received the first printed copy of the winning work, which will be available to buy from shops on the Maes and across Wales from today onwards.

Speaking about the winning work, the author said:  “With war still affecting our world, someone often hears about the way Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder affects the lives orf soldiers and former soldiers.  Of course, this is not a new thing; the poets and storytellers of Wales in the Middle Ages had ways of discussing the same thing.  There is a story about Myrddin Wyllt becoming mad during the Battle of Arfderydd (Arthuret).  He went to live in the woods – a mad man of the woods – where he wrote prophetic poetry.  He avoided other people and his sister, Gwenddydd, was the only person who was allowed to speak to him.

My aim was to reveal the age-long aspect of the story by placing it in recent times.   When I think about the link between the present and the past, I often think about the Second World War – the crossroads of the modern world, an experience which belongs to history  and is yet close enough to us.  My late mother in law, Jane Humphreys, nursed in a military hospital during the war; I wouldn’t say that the character, Gwen, is based on her, but hearing about what she did during the years of the war made me feel closer to these experiences.

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