Mid Wales

Ceredigion poet Kaite O'Reilly wins Ted Hughes Award

Poet Laureate, Carol Ann Duffy, Kaite O'Reilly, and judges, Gillian Clarke, Jeanette Winterson, and Stephen Raw
Image caption Kaite O'Reilly was awarded the prize at The Savile Club in London

A Ceredigion-based writer has won a major poetry prize backed by the poet laureate.

Kaite O'Reilly from Llanarth was awarded the 2010 Ted Hughes Award for new work in poetry at The Savile Club in London on 24 March 2011.

She scooped the award for her new version of Aeschylus' tragedy The Persians, staged at a military base in the Brecon Beacons last year.

Part of her £5,000 prize will be donated to the Japanese relief fund.

"I am absolutely delighted and overwhelmed to win an award associated with Ted Hughes and the poet, laureate, Carol Ann Duffy," said Ms O'Reilly.

"My version of The Persians wasn't written in rhyming couplets so it isn't a piece of poetry written for the stage.

"However, I did try to echo the rhythms and patterns of Aeschylus' work so I would say it is a lyrical piece.

"It says a lot about The Poetry Society for their broad definition of poetry to give the award to a site specific play like this."

The judges of the competition were Ceredigion-based National Poet of Wales, Gillian Clarke, Stephen Raw, and Jeanette Winterson.

Their citation of Ms Reilly's work, said: "Poetry crosses time, the old play becomes the new poetry.

"Here's the truth of language colliding with the clichés of politics and the advertisement of war.

"This verse play is entertainment, challenge and a lie detector."

Burnt-out tanks

Ms O'Reilly said she would donate part of her £5,000 prize to the Japanese Relief Fund.

"I will also go out and buy the collected works of the other shortlisted writers and buy some art," she added.

Image caption The Persians was performed on a military range in August 2010

"I was sitting in Claridge's sipping pink champagne last night and I thought to myself, it doesn't get any better than this."

National Theatre Wales managed to gain unprecedented access to military ranges on the Brecon Beacons to stage the play in August 2010.

Audiences were transferred by bus to the remote village of Cileni where the play was performed amidst burnt-out tanks.

"I knew that The Persians would be performed on the military range when I was writing my version," said Ms O'Reilly.

"I was aware that soldiers had trained on the site before going to Iraq and Afghanistan, which were once part of the Persian empire.

"This provided a resonance that influenced my version of the play to try and imagine Aeschylus' voice without trying to be too academic."

Cultural Olympiad

Ms O'Reilly, who is the sister of Miriam O'Reilly, the former presenter of BBC One's Countryfile, has lived in Llanarth for the last 12 years.

Her awards include runner-up in the Royal Court Young Writers' Festival, co-winner of the Peggy Ramsay Award (1998), Theatre Wales best new play (2003) and Manchester Evening News best play of 2004.

In 2010 she won a commission to create an arts project for the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad.

The £5,000 prize for the annual Ted Hughes Award is donated by poet laureate, Carol Ann Duffy, funded from the honorarium she receives from The Queen each year.

The other writers shortlisted for this year's award were Martin Figura, Christopher Reid, David Swann, and Katherine Towers.

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