Award-winning American poet publishes collection based on a visit to South West Wales


Award-winning American poet, Martin Willitts Jr has recently had a collection of poems published based on his visit to South West Wales – a trip organised by the University of Wales Trinity Saint David (UWTSD).

Martin Willitts Jr

Having won the UWTSD Dylan Thomas International Poetry Award back in 2014, Martin Willitts Jr was invited to Wales to read his winning poem at a prestigious Awards ceremony that was held in Swansea.  The event also celebrated the winner of the Dylan Thomas International Glass Award, Ruth Morris. 

During his visit, Martin Willitts from Syracuse, New York, was taken to various Dylan Thomas related-locations across the region, including the Writing Shed and Boathouse in Laugharne as well as many of Dylan’s haunts in Swansea.

The Dylan Thomas International Poetry Award was a competition run by UWTSD and was one of the many events organised to celebrate the centenary of Dylan Thomas’ birth. Adjudicated by world-renowned Welsh poets Dr Grahame Davies and the University’s former Director of Creative Writing, Professor Menna Elfyn, the competition saw over 350 poets submitting work but it was Martin Willett’s piece, ‘Daffodils’ that was chosen as the winner.

Martin Willitts Jr says that his latest collection, ‘Dylan Thomas and the Writing Shed’ is about the precious time he spent in Swansea and Laugharne.

“Inside the shed, Dylan would write his last poems facing the bay. Every item inside the shed has a story to tell. Dylan would be the first media poet—with poems, plays, short stories, radio broadcasts, newspaper articles—and he would survive two world wars. We get to walk around Swansea and learn about the terrain, the copper mines, and the immigrant sanctuary. Sometimes the voice is Dylan, and other times it is someone else.

“The poems visit his birth house, the park across the street, and provide flashbacks to the London bombing that inspired his poem, A Refusal to Mourn the Death, By Fire, of a Child in London,” he adds.

The poems in this collection also include stained glass artwork inspired by Dylan Thomas and Martin's international prize-winning poem, “Daffodils.”

“It’s wonderful to see Martin Willitts publishing a collection of poetry based on his visit to Wales,” says Roger Maidment, Dean of the Faculty of Business and Management who co-ordinated UWTSD’s 2014 Dylan Thomas season.

“The University held a wide range of events to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the birth of Dylan Thomas and it’s fantastic to think that the visit we arranged for Martin has gone on to inspire a whole collection of work.”

Martin Willitts Jr is a Quaker, poet, organic gardener and retired librarian living in Syracuse, New York, with his wife, Linda Griggs. 

As well as winning the 2014 International Dylan Thomas Poetry Award, Martin Willitts Jr. has also published 20 chapbooks and 10 full-length collections including National Ecological Award winner for Searching for What You Cannot See (Hiraeth Press, 2013) and How to Be Silent (FutureCycle Press, 2016). His forthcoming poetry books include Nasturtiums in Snow Understand Green Is Coming (Foothills Press), Three Ages of Women (Deerbrook Editions), Martin Willitts Jr. Greatest Hits (Kattywompus Press), and the Turtle Island Editor’s Choice Award winning chapbook, The Wire Fence Holding Back the World (Flowstone Press).

Further Information

  1. For further information, please contact Sian-Elin Davies by emailing / 01267 676908 / 07449 998476