Dylan Thomas centenary festival details unveiled

Dylan Thomas The aim is to bring Thomas' work to greater prominence

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A festival of events to mark the centenary of the birth of poet Dylan Thomas will show the quality of the arts in Wales, his granddaughter says.

Hannah Ellis is honorary patron for the Dylan Thomas 100 Festival, a year-long programme of recitals, plays, music, workshops and other events at venues across Wales throughout 2014.

The aim is to give the Swansea-born writer's work even greater prominence.

Illustrations of the play Under Milk Wood are on show in the first event.

First Minister Carwyn Jones is among guests at the private view of Llareggub by artist Sir Peter Blake at the National Museum Cardiff on Thursday before it opens to the public on Saturday.

"Dylan Thomas 100 will really show the creativity and quality of the arts in Wales, the wonderful spirit in its different communities, as well as giving a new generation of writers, artists, musicians and performers a chance to shine," Ms Ellis said.

Swansea council leaders say the festival will benefit local people by attracting top quality exhibitions, performances and other cultural activities to the city which yesterday lost out on a bid to be the UK City of Culture 2017.

'Major figure'

Council leader David Phillips said: "We may have been pipped to the post in the race to become UK City of Culture 2017, but festivals of this kind show we're Wales' capital of culture and that people across Swansea and visitors here in future have a huge amount of cultural highlights to look forward to."

Prof Peter Stead, chair of the annual Dylan Thomas Prize for new writers, said events would be held around Wales.

"It's going to be a very, very exciting year," he said.

"It's happening all over Wales, so somewhere near you there will be poets reciting, there will be plays, music, workshops, book classes, reading classes... a wonderful opportunity," he told BBC Radio Wales.

Prof Stead said that Thomas was known all over the world, with American poets talking about his "enormous influence" and books translated into languages including Japanese.

"In many ways in America he confirmed the notion of a poet as a genius of words, as an outsider, a romantic, someone with a religious sub-text looking for meaning, looking for significance in nature and the whole cycle of life and death," he said.

Thomas was a "major figure" who deserved to be placed "back on that pedestal", he added.

The exhibition by Sir Peter Blake of new illustrations of Under Milk Wood runs from Saturday until 16 March.

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