In the Leverhulme-funded ‘Devolved Voices’ project at Aberystwyth University, we are scrutinising Welsh poetry in English since the devolution ‘yes’ vote of 1997. Our scope includes Welsh and Wales-associated poets who have risen to prominence and acclaim, those whose careers have been somewhat quieter, as well as those we would regard as ‘freshly minted’. The project also offers an opportunity to explore the interplay of poetic output with notions of nationhood, identity and belonging in the context of devolution.
Interviews with thirteen poets who write in the English language1 – amounting to over a third of our ultimate total of thirty – as well as consideration of their output, indicate that devolution and the political present of Wales do not figure highly in their artistic concerns, consciously at least. This position chimes with feedback from Welsh-language novelists, questioned by Angharad Price, who denied the impact of devolution on their creative practice in a 2011 article in Llên Cymru.2 Notably, Bardd Plant Cymru (Children’s Poet Laureate of Wales) 2011–2013, Eurig Salisbury, commented in correspondence to me that: ‘Devolution would be a much stronger part of my poetry, which is social by nature and very often commissioned and read aloud in front of an audience, if devolution itself and its effects were stronger.’