Winner of the 2016 Wales Book of the Year (Poetry)
Mererid Hopwood is one of the best-known poets writing today in Welsh who made history as the first woman to win the bardic chair at the National Eisteddfod - our annual cultural festival - for a long poem in cynghanedd. Nes Draw is the first collection of her poetry and consists largely, though by no means entirely, of poems written in these very tight forms, which she has explained as both craft and art in an excellent English volume Singing in Chains, essential reading for anyone who comes to her poetry from outside.
Her poetry has a tender inwardness, exploring the deepest recesses of the heart where conscience and an inner light unite with sensitivity to suffering to overcome division and challenge power. She likes to use the second person singular, establishing a direct human bond, for "the impersonal verb is a merciless device." But alongside the strongly pacifist pieces there are lighter and more occasional poems reflecting the many-sided activity of a poet in contemporary Wales.
Mererid is an accomplished linguist with strong German and Spanish, well aware of the difficulties and pleasures of translating poetry. She has travelled widely, taken part in workshops with poets and translators in Europe, India and South America, translated work by Paul Celan and Lorca and published academic work on Johann Peter Hebel. Her work awaits a talented and adventurous translator whom, in many cases, she would be able to meet half way.
‘Every poem includes layers of meaning which are revealed gradually. New meaning can be found on every reading, and when read in context with the other poems found in the collection, meanings change again. In this ambiguity lies the poetry’s charm. The poems reveal further secrets with every reading; their simplicity creates imaginative opportunities for the reader to play with the poet’s ideas.’