Gillian Clarke awarded Hay Festival Medal for Poetry

Director of Hay Festival Peter Florence presents Gillian Clarke with the Hay Festival Medal for Poetry. Photo Credit Sam Hardwick

Director of Hay Festival Peter Florence presents Gillian Clarke with the Hay Festival Medal for Poetry. Photo Credit Sam Hardwick

Poet, playwright, editor and translator Gillian Clarke was awarded the Hay Festival Medal for Poetry on day six of the landmark literary festival. Appearing in an event to discuss Shakespeare’s Lyr and her upcoming collection Zoology on Tuesday (31 May), Clarke was presented her Medal by Hay Festival Director Peter Florence in front of a packed Hay crowd.

Created by Christopher Hamilton, a silversmith local to the festival site in Hay-on-Wye, the medals have been awarded annually since Britain’s Olympic year (2012), drawing inspiration from the original Olympic medal given for poetry. 

On Sunday, Janine di Giovanni was awarded the Hay Medal for Prose, with medals for Drama and Song to be given out. Last year’s winners included Germaine Greer (Medal for Education), Alan Bennett (Medal for Drama), Robert MacFarlane (Medal for Prose), and Chris Riddell (Medal for Illustration).

The sterling silver medals are struck by hand, using the traditional 'drop hammer' method, engraved with an image of Athena’s owl and the recipient’s name. All the letter engraving (of winners' names and categories) is done entirely by hand by Birmingham engraver Peta Greenwood. 

“Gillian Clarke has redefined poetry, not just in Wales, but around the world. The growth of her work and the spread of her voice has mirrored our own festival’s development and this Welsh field filled with lovers of written and spoken word seems like the perfect setting to celebrate her work. We are honoured to do so.”
— Peter Florence, Director of Hay Festival

Born in Cardiff, Wales, and now living on a smallholding in Ceredigion, Clarke has published several collections of poetry including her most recent, A Recipe for Water (2009). In 2008 she published a book of prose, including a journal of the writer's year, entitled At The Source, and was named as Wales' National Poet. In 2010 she was awarded the Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry. In 2011 she was made a member of the Gorsedd of Bards. In 2012 she received the Wilfred Owen Association Poetry award and the book Ice was shortlisted for the T. S. Eliot Prize in 2012.

She is President of Ty Newydd, the Writer's Centre in North Wales which she co-founded in 1990, and teaches on the M.Phil Writing Course at the University of Glamorgan. She has travelled widely giving poetry readings and lectures, and her work has been translated into ten languages.

The programme for the remaining three days is available in full at, with speakers over the festival including Michael Palin, Simon Schama, Gordon Brown, Monty Don, Tom Holland, Jeanette Winterson and Tom Jones, with comedy from Sarah Millican and music from Billy Bragg, Laura Marling, K T Tunstall, and Baaba Maal.

Meanwhile, beyond the main stages is a whole host of activities for all ages to discover and enjoy, from the best local food and drink, creative workshops and artists’ exhibitions, to a blockbuster programme of free BBC events and the opportunity to explore the stunning countryside surrounding the festival site.