Gwyneth Owen 2009

A poem by the organiser of Pwllheli library’s book club has won the first translation challenge to be run by Translators’ House Wales.

Gwyneth Owen was among one of 14 people who took up the challenge to write an English version of the Welsh-language poem Dod i’w coed by Menna Elfyn.

Her name was announced at a special event held at the Guardian Hay Festival on Tuesday 26 May 2009 to mark the establishment of Translators’ House Wales.

Gwyneth – who’s also the Secretary of Cylch Llenyddol Llŷn (Lleyn Literary Group) and a former English teacher – will receive two nights’ board and lodging for two people at the Tŷ Newydd National Writers’ Centre in Llanystumdwy, Gwynedd.

“I was quite shocked to hear that I’d won the competition,” said Gwyneth from Pwllheli, who was responsible in 2003 for the English-language adaptation of the book, Llŷn by Elfed Gruffydd. “I’m not a professional translator but I have done some work in this area. I heard Menna Elfyn talking about the Translation Challenge on the radio and I decided to give it a go.”

Menna Elfyn - whose own work has been translated and published in more than 18 languages - said the standard of entries had been very high.

“Making a final decision wasn’t easy as we received several very good poems but I was looking for one which worked as a complete composition, which captured the spirit of my original poem and which showed skill in the art of translation,” said Menna.

Translators’ House Wales is a new partnership between Wales Literature Exchange in Aberystwyth and the Tŷ Newydd National Writers’ Centre in Llanystumdwy.

“This competition has highlighted some of the translation skills which we already have here in Wales. These skills will be developed further following the establishment of Translators’ House Wales, which will also run courses and residences for international writers and translators in order to strengthen literary exchange between Wales and the world,” said the Director of Wales Literature Exchange Sioned Puw Rowlands.

The Executive Director of Tŷ Newydd Sally Baker said: “Translators' House Wales is part of a wider campaign to promote awareness and enjoyment of literature in translation. Here at Tŷ Newydd, we are looking forward to welcoming our first international writer in the autumn as part of the new partnership and the first translation workshops will be held here in December 2009.”