Welsh Keywords: Ysgrif

From Planet 248

by Sara Louise Wheeler

This is the forty-fourth contribution to our Welsh Keywords series – inspired by Raymond Williams’ Keywords – which offers contemporary perspectives on contested meanings of words in Welsh and how these shifting meanings continue to shape our society.

Browse any Eisteddfod booklet containing the ‘list of topics’, and amongst the many different types of poetry and prose competitions, you will invariably find the ‘Ysgrif’. The name is derived from the Latin ‘scrībendum’, meaning ‘writing’ or ‘to be written’. Whilst some would argue that the ysgrif is a distinctly Welsh tradition, it also fits nicely within the many synonyms and translations which include the ‘personal essay’ or ‘experience essay’, as Emrys Parry argued,1 ‘literary essay’, and ‘belles lettres’. This field of writing has blurred boundaries and has a very fluid definition, being largely defined by its position as contrary to the ‘formal essay’.

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About the author

Sara Louise Wheeler writes the column ‘O’r Gororau’ for Barddas and won Disability Arts Cymru’s ‘Creative Word Award 2022’ (Welsh medium), with her poem ‘Ablaeth Rhemp y Crachach’. Sara lives and works in the north-east Wales borderlands, is an executive board member for PEN Wales, and one of the poetry judges for Eisteddfod yr Urdd Sir Gaerfyrddin 2023.