Second International Dylan Thomas Day Celebrates with Worldwide Events

Literature WalesThis year’s ‘Dylan Day’ (Sat 14th May) is set to be the most international yet, with events taking place all over the world, in Italy, Australia, and Argentina, as well as the USA and UK.

The first International Dylan Thomas Day took place in 2015 following requests to establish a public day for the poet, after the year-long Dylan Thomas 100 Festival was met with great public enthusiasm. Now, International Dylan Thomas Day, or ‘Dylan Day’ as it is affectionately known, is held annually on 14 May, the date Under Milk Wood was first read on stage at The Poetry Center in New York in 1953.

Dylan Day is organised by Literature Wales and funded by Welsh Government as part of a three year package of funding. The day aims to celebrate and raise the profile of Thomas’ work in Wales and abroad through a variety of activities, including events, educational resources and a social media campaign.

This year there will be an exciting array of activities all over the world, and includes all of the key locations associated with the poet: New Quay, Laugharne, Swansea, Penzance, Oxford, London, and New York. The celebration has also grown to include the preceding as well as following week, with several events scheduled at the Dylan Thomas Birthplace in Swansea; a weekend festival in Fishguard; and showings of the play ‘Caitlin’ in Battersea Arts Centre and then around Wales.

International Dylan Thomas Day 2016 begins at 8.00 am in New Quay with sand artist Marc Treanor, who will replicate this year’s Dylan Day logo, designed by north Wales artist Jonathan Edwards.

At 9.30 am, the launch of a new walking app, ‘Return Journey’, will take place in Swansea, with a promenade performance by the Lighthouse Theatre, beginning at Castle Square and ending at the beautifully restored Dylan Thomas Birthplace at 11.15 am.

In Laugharne Castle, there will be storytelling from David Pitt and Mark Montinaro at 10.30 pm. And, from 11.30 am, there will be an exhibition launch in the Dylan Thomas Boathouse, followed by music and words from the Dylan Thomas Sound Project at 2.00 pm, plus an evening event at the Tin Shed.

Further literary walks will take place in Oxford, Penzance, and Mousehole, all locations with strong Dylan Thomas links. They begin at Oxford Castle Unlocked at 10.00 am; Longboat Hotel, Penzance at 11.00 am; and The Old Coastguard in Mousehole at 6.00 pm. These walks present a great opportunity to retrace the Welsh bard’s footsteps and have fun along the way.

The 2016 award ceremony for the prestigious International Dylan Thomas Prize, in collaboration with Swansea University, will also take place on 14 May. This year’s event opens at 1.30 pm at the Great Hall, on the new Swansea University Bay Campus. The winner of the £30,000 Prize for the best published literary work in the English language, written by an author aged 39 or under, will be announced in the afternoon. As the Prize celebrates its 10 year anniversary, the general public are able to purchase tickets on this memorable occasion.

The evening in Swansea offers a whole host of events, with a play, launches, and readings at the Dylan Thomas Birthplace from 5.00 pm, and a special collaboration between Do Not Go Gentle Festival, Dylan’s Bookstore, and Cinema & Co from 8.00 pm. This includes a talk from Dylan Thomas expert Jeff Towns, a double bill of films, spoken word, and more.

There will be several online events, ensuring that Dylan-enthusiasts across the world can join in the celebrations. Thomas’ granddaughter Hannah Ellis will be launching, the official website about Dylan Thomas on behalf of his family and estate. From New York, acclaimed rap artist Baba Brinkman will be writing and releasing an original rap inspired by the Welsh poet, and 92nd Street Y, The Poetry Center will share the Michael Sheen version of Under Milk Wood, which will be available on demand.

New Dylan Thomas-related items abound, also, and are an important feature of the celebrations. Revealing working manuscripts of poems by the Welsh writer have been bought by Swansea University and will go on public show for the first time from 11.00 am – 3.00 pm at the Bay Library on Swansea University’s new Bay Campus. At the British Library, London on Friday 13 May at 3.00 pm, Professor John Goodby will hand over a Laugharne G.P.’s personal memoir of the Thomas family and a copy of a previously unpublished Dylan Thomas letter.

On Dylan Day itself, John Goodby’s The Collected Poems of Dylan Thomas (Everyman) will be launched in paperback at the famous Wheatsheaf Tavern – the pub where Dylan and Caitlin met – and there will be readings from the memoir and letter, as well as poems recited by well-known actress Sian Thomas, plus other special guests. There is a further London event at The Poetry Cafe, Covent Garden, from 7.30 pm, with modern poetry inspired by the bard.

This year’s Dylan’s Great Poem, the poem written by young people aged 7-25 from all over the world, will be revealed both online and during the Megaverse event at Cardiff Central Library at 3.00 pm by former Bardd Plant Cymru, Aneirin Karadog.

From Argentina / Patagonia, the British Council will be sharing a new video of an Under Milk Wood project; in Australia, there will be events in both Perth and Sydney; and in Turin, Italy, there will be a conference on, and tribute to, Dylan Thomas on 16 May.

In the words of actor Michael Sheen: “To experience the sensual electric thrill of Dylan Thomas’ words makes any day special. Be good to your soul and make sure May 14th is one of them.”

Find out more on the Literature Wales website and by following the hashtags #DylanDay and #DyddDylan on social media.

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