University of Wales Dylan Thomas Prize Launch a Great Success

Posted on 11 March 2010

Left to right: Poet Laureate, Robert Pinsky; Tessa Dahl and Professor Peter Stead

Tessa Dahl, daughter of Roald Dahl, former U.S. Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky and Harvard Review editor Christina Thompson were just some of the high profile names that attended the launch of the 2010 University of Wales Dylan Thomas Prize last week in Boston, USA. The audience also included representatives from some of the world’s top Universities, including Harvard and MIT as well as Welsh ex-pats from US societies such as the Cymrodorion Cymraeg who’d all come to celebrate the launch on St David’s Day.

Hosted by the British Consulate-General in Boston, Dr Phil Budden, and part of the Welsh Assembly Government’s week long St David’s Day celebrations in the US, the evening included a special lecture by the Prize Chair, Dr Peter Stead and readings by author Tessa Dahl and poets Robert Pinsky and Professor Kurt  Heinzelman.

This year the Prize will accept entries from short story writers, playwrights, screenwriters and novelists. Professor Stead explained how the Prize reflected Thomas’ own creative diversity:

 “The Prize was given this unique format as a reflection of Dylan Thomas’s own writing—for he was a poet, prose writer and playwright. In his brief life he excelled in a wide range of literary forms. And just as with the Nobel Prize and the Pulitzer, our judges seek excellence.”

The Prize, which is named in honour of the famous Welsh writer and poet, has established itself as one of world‘s top prizes for young writers, with a cash award of £30,000, provided by the University of Wales. The launch in Boston cements its growing international presence as one of the world’s most respected literary prizes.

A “rock star” of poetry, Dylan Thomas was a regular visitor to the United States, drawing sold out crowds and thrilling audiences with his dramatic readings before he died in New York at the tender age of 39 in 1953. In a happy coincidence, Dylan Thomas’s first reading in the USA took place in Boston exactly 60 years to the day of the 2010 launch, on March 1 1950.

The selected finalists who make the short list of this year’s competition will be invited to the UK to take part in a number of key Prize events, as well as participating in an educational outreach programme – DylanED - with schools, colleges and universities, co-driven by the Prize’s headline sponsor, the University of Wales.

Professor Marc Clement, Vice Chancellor of the University of Wales, said:

“The Dylan Thomas Prize is establishing itself as one of Wales’s great cultural assets. The Prize’s global reach and aspirations, its focus on youth and its emphasis on nurturing excellence are fully consistent with the goals of the University of Wales and we are proud to be its official Title Sponsor.

“The education programme DylanED is hugely important to the University of Wales. As an organisation that is dedicated to the development and education of young people, it is a perfect fit for us.”

Director of the Hay Festival, Peter Florence, will once again chair the judging panel, which will be announced in June. Entries for the Prize must be submitted by publisher, editor, literary agent, or in the case of film scripts and stage plays, the producer by 30th April 2010. Writers must be 18-30 years old, and the literary works must have been published within the past year to be eligible for competition.

For more information about the Dylan Thomas Prize, and for complete entry rules and guidelines, please visit


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