My Life in Verse: Cerys Matthews

Welsh singer-songwriter Cerys Matthews travels back to her roots to explore the extraordinary legacy of Celtic poetry, and to discover why poets can make us feel so connected to the places we call home.

In a personal journey across the British Isles, Cerys Matthews traces the evolving role of the poet in society from the earliest Welsh bards to the writers of Northern Ireland’s Troubles, exploring the ways that poets have shaped Celtic identity.

Starting in her native Swansea, Cerys immerses herself in the surreal vision of Dylan Thomas, retracing his steps and analysing his musical use of language.

She moves on to Cardiff to explore the subversive, sensual poetry of 14th-century bard Dafydd ap Gwilym and the rich heritage of Welsh-language poetry. From there it is on to Yorkshire and Ted Hughes’s vision of the ancient Celtic kingdom of Elmet.

Cerys has been collecting folk songs for decades, and many of her favourite songs come from Ireland. She travels to County Sligo on the wild west coast to explore the beautiful landscapes that inspired Ireland’s great poet William Butler Yeats. In Belfast, she looks at the rich outpouring of poetry from Northern Ireland during the Troubles.

Cerys ends her journey in Scotland with the joyous, exuberant work of Robert Burns, and discovers why Burns connects with readers all around the world.

During her travels, Cerys reflects on the emotional impact of poetry on her own life and work, and on the power of words to change the course of history.