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Cheer up, Swansea! Dylan Thomas centenary festival is launched

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A festival of events to mark the centenary of the birth of Dylan Thomas has been launched in Swansea, with the city still trying to get over its disappointment after missing out in its bid to become city of culture. The Dylan Thomas 100 Festival will provide a year-long programme of recitals, plays, music, workshops and other events at venues across Wales throughout 2014. The first event, an exhibition of illustrations by Sir Peter Blake of Thomas’ radio play Under Milk Wood was opened to the public today, Saturday 23 November, at the National Museum Cardiff.  

The poet’s granddaughter, Hannah Ellis, said: "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.”

The launch at the Dylan Thomas centre in Swansea gave the city a chance to forget its disappointment at losing out to Hull in its bid to be the UK city of culture 2017.

Swansea council leaders hope the festival will attract exhibitions, performances and other cultural activities to the city. Earlier this year the park near Thomas’s childhood home in Cwmdonkin Drive, that inspired such poems as ‘The Hunchback in the Park’, received a £1.4m makeover.

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, told BBC Radio Wales: "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."

Thomas’s radio broadcasts for the BBC first brought him fame in the 1940s. He died in the US aged 39 in 1953 after bouts of heavy drinking. A BBC drama about his last days is due to be screened in autumn 2014.

Stead said that Thomas was a "major figure" who deserved to be placed "back on that pedestal".

The exhibition of Under Milk Wood illustrations will run until 16 March. At this week’s launch there was also a reading of one of the poet’s most celebrated works, ‘Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night’, by the national poet for Wales, Gillian Clarke. She said Thomas had “filled the world with beauty” through his work, and added that you did not need prizes to be a city of culture.


Background: BBC to mark centenary with film about poet’s last days

Dylan Thomas ‘Hunchback’ park has makeover




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