Writing in Welsh seems to me like a journey back to my home town. On the one hand familiar territory after all those lessons, but on the other it can be tortuous as you think you know your way when suddenly everything's changed and you are lost.
   My ambition is eventually to produce a book of poems specifically for learners. Whether this ever comes to fruition I don't know, but I shall certainly try.
   At present , the journey is two ways : there is a deep sense of discovery and reclamation of roots  and an even greater one of an exciting new place, beneath the surface of things and slowly being revealed.
   My first steps writing poetry in Welsh were taken just over a year ago, when I wrote a poem called 'Croesi' ('Crossing') for the University of Glamorgan Eisteddfod y Dysgwyr. After that, I wrote several haiku yn Gymraeg as part of a challenge to write one poem a day last April.
   Last Friday I felt as if I had arrived , even though it was only a moment, a fragment buried for too long.
   It is like being a child again : finding and relishing new vocabulary, yet also making many mistakes , as though there are shards of rusted metal and fragments of china in among the valuable finds.
   Last Friday I was filmed by Cymdeithas Yr Iaith's Sianel 62 reading two poems in Welsh in Cyfarthfa Park, where the recent republican protest against Mrs Windsor's visit took place. I sat on a bench next to a red flag. Behind me were two peculiar sculpted heads of Springboks! It should be ready for viewing soon and I hope I don't look and sound like an 'eejit'!
   As I think more in Welsh, so I find myself drawn to certain phrases and patterns. It is different to most of my poetry-writing in English, where the imagery is often the inspiration.
   I am conscious that my poems may be too simple ; they may well be full of cliches which I, as I learner, am not aware of.
   The first one I read is called 'Yr Ymweliad Y Windsors'( about the recent visit of the Windsors to Merthyr)  and my experience as a poet did matter in its composition, because everything about it came from the shape and immediacy.
   It moves from side to side on the page like a film, shifting between the progress of the Windsors from Llandaf to Cyfarthfa Castle and the main events of the protest itself.
  It is unique for the poems I've attempted in Welsh, because it uses rhyme and half-rhyme. I honestly didn't think I was capable of doing this!
   The second poem I wrote originally as two separate pieces, but it made sense to join them together under the heading of 'Baneri' ('Flags').
   The first part looks at the red flag, so important to my political beliefs and also to the history of Merthyr and beyond. I look at the colour red and what it signifies, taking a swipe at 'the rose cut from the bush' (with its Labour connotations).
   The second is my angry response to the sheer ubiquity of Union Jacks down town at present. I make a link between the Jubilee and Olympics , calling it a strange marriage.
   Sometimes what I want to say defeats me. My latest poem is about Aberystwyth and the importance of my blues-harp when I was there. The last line totally stumped me, not just because of grammatical construction but the awkwardness of the sound.
   I wonder if I'll ever express myself in Welsh with the fluency and ease I can in English  or even in Merthyr dialect, despite not being a native!
   I am in awe of those writers in Cymru like Gwyneth Lewis who seem just as assured in both languages.
   I cannot imagine reaching a point, as Harri Webb did, where he refused to write poetry in English at all. The language is so integral to my past and everyday existence, it would be like cutting out part of my brain!
   Yet Cymraeg was the language of my forefathers (on my father's side anyway) and , above all, it represents the future : one where we are a fully bi-lingual nation and do not need to question an education system where it is at the core and a society where Welsh is used daily.
   I fear this will never  under either 'devo-mini' or 'devo-max', only when something far more fundamental and revolutionary happens here.

                                     BANERI

                                           1.
Coch fel y baner
coch fel y ddraig
coch fel y gwaed

gwaed yr oen
yn Ffair Waun
lle oedd y gwrthdystiad yn dechrau

coch fel gwaed Penderyn
oedd yn rhedeg trwy'r nant
i lawr mynydd Aberdar

coch fel y gwefusau
sy'n siarad am y dyfodol
pan briodiff gobaith a chyfiawnder

nid coch y rhosyn
cafodd ei dorri
wrth y llwyn

ond, coch y gwaed
sy'n llifo eto
yn afonydd y pobl.



                                                 2.
Y faner Prydain
ym mhob man
yn y dre tlawd fi

dros ffenestri y siopau
dros y llyfrau
dros y bagiau

dros y taflenni
dros y posteri
fel wyneb Tito neu Stalin

y cwpl rhyfedd
Olympaidd a brenhines
yn priodi y flwyddyn hon

dyn'r briodas i gadw
yr Undeb sy'n colli canghennau
fel coeden yn y storm.
  
  
  
  
 


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