Playwright joins Dylan Thomas young writers prize list

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Johnny Meyer
Image caption,
Johnny Meyer is the first playwright to be nominated for the literary prize

Sixteen young writers have been selected for the longlist for the £30,000 University of Wales Dylan Thomas Prize.

For the first time a playwright is included, ex-US army ranger Johnny Meyer, 27, who drew on his experiences in Afghanistan.

The list of writers under 30 includes five from the UK. Others come from as far afield as New Zealand and Somalia.

Actress Kate Burton, daughter of Richard Burton is one of the judges.

The prize went to Nam Le, originally from Vietnam, in 2008 and to Welsh writer Rachel Tresize in 2006.

Last year the organisers announced the prize was to change from a £60,000 one awarded every two years to a £30,000 one handed out each year.

It honours the works of Swansea-born poet Dylan Thomas, who died in New York in 1953, and is open to any published writer in English who is under 30.

This year's entries cover topics ranging from divorce and love to war and racism.

Among the 2010 longlisted writers is ex-American army ranger Meyer, from Texas, whose play American Volunteers follows three sergeants on a special operation in Afghanistan and draws on firsthand experiences.

Also selected for her debut novel, The Rehearsal is New Zealander Eleanor Catton who explores the controversial topic of an affair between a high school pupil and her teacher.

English poet Caroline Bird, 23, who made the shortlist in 2008, is again back in contention with her third collection of poems, Watering Can.

'Truly great writer'

And Nadifa Mohamed, from Somalia, has said Dylan Thomas's Under Milk Wood was the inspiration for her longlisted novel Black Mamba Boy.

Prof Peter Stead, the prize founder, said: "The calibre of these sixteen works is outstanding.

"This unique prize was established to celebrate young, talented writers worldwide and these works aptly showcase the excellence of creative writing that exists across the entire English-speaking world.

"This award honours a truly great writer who died while still a young man and I am sure it will be a great encouragement to talented young writers everywhere."

The 2010 judging panel is chaired by Peter Florence, founder of the Hay Literary Festival, and also includes Cardiff-born poet and journalist Gwyneth Lewis, who was the first National Poet of Wales, and Prof Kurt Heinzelman, from the University of Texas.

Last year it was announced that Kate Burton and actor Michael Sheen, from Port Talbot, were to be patrons of the prize.

The winner will be revealed in September.

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