Beirniadaeth Siân Northey’s Adjudication

Enwebwyd amrywiaeth eang iawn o ddarnau ar gyfer Gwobr Emyr Humphreys eleni, y flwyddyn gyntaf i’r gystadleuaeth gael ei chynnal i gyd-fynd â’i ben-blwydd yn gant.

Gofynnwyd am ddarnau ffeithiol am Gymru, boed yn ysgrif, blog neu erthygl, yn Gymraeg neu’n Saesneg, a’r unig ganllawiau oedd eu bod yn ddarnau y credai’r enwebwyr oedd yn haeddu eu lledaenu ymhellach. Cafwyd amrywiaeth o ran pynciau – o Fwslemiaeth yng Nghymru i drafodaeth ynglŷn â’r hen goel gwrach honno fod pobl ond yn siarad Cymraeg pan fo dieithryn yn dod i mewn i’r dafarn.

Cafwyd amrywiaeth o ran hyd – credaf fod y byrraf tua 700 gair a’r hiraf tua 6,000 o eiriau. Ac yn fwy heriol i ni fel beirniaid cafwyd amrywiaeth o ran arddull. Buom yn darllen darnau byr ag arddull syml, boblogaidd ac yn ceisio eu cloriannu yn erbyn darnau trymach, mwy cynhwysfawr, a mwy academaidd eu cywair.

Er bod yr elfen hon o ddewis y ‘Best in Show’, o gymharu merlen fynydd efo ceffyl gwedd, wedi esgor ar gryn drafodaeth rhyngddom, roeddem yn gytûn ynglŷn â dau beth – roedd yn rhaid i’r enillwyr ddweud rhywbeth o bwys ac roedd rhaid iddynt ei ddweud yn gelfydd. Y canllawiau hyn arweiniodd at ein dewis o ddau enillydd – un yn Gymraeg ac un yn Saesneg – dau awdur oedd yn amlygu crebwyll ochr yn ochr â’r ddawn i ymdrin ag iaith.

Yr enillydd Saesneg yw Mark S. Redfern am ei ysgrif ‘When Vice Came to Swansea.’

Mae’n disgrifio, ac yn beirniadu’n hallt ac yn ddeifiol, fideo ddogfen a wnaethpwyd gan Vice ac a ddaeth yn hynod boblogaidd ar YouTube. Teitl gwreiddiol y fidio oedd Swansea Love Story. Mae’r teitl ddefnyddiodd YouTube ar ei chyfer, Teenage Heroin Epidemic, yn rhoi syniad o’r cynnwys. Mae gan Mark Redfern dro ymadrodd sy’n codi gwên er gwaetha’r pwnc: ‘The directors […] donned their pith helmets and went hunting for a story in the badlands of Swansea.’ Ond mae ganddo hefyd ddadl glir sydd yn mynd ymhellach na dau wneuthurwr ffilm breintiedig yn troi cyfweliadau efo ychydig o bobl ifanc yn Abertawe sy’n gaeth i gyffuriau yn ‘cack-handed poverty porn’. Esbonia’n glir fod Cymru angen cyfryngau sydd yn gallu adrodd yn gyfrifol am y defnydd o gyffuriau. Yr ensyniad rhesymegol o hynny, er nad yw Redfern yn ei ddweud, yw bod Cymru angen cyfryngau sydd yn gallu adrodd yn gyfrifol am bopeth yn ein gwlad.

Hoffwn nodi fy mod hefyd wedi mwynhau darn Gary Raymond – Prince of Wales Bridge: Symbolism of a Sign – yn arw. Ysgrif arall sydd yn gwneud pwyntiau pwysig, wedi’u gwisgo mewn hyd yn oed mwy o ddychan deifiol, yn arbennig y portread o Alun Cairns.

Un enillydd clir oedd yna ar yr ochr Gymraeg – ‘Doethineb Iaith’ gan Mererid Hopwood a ymddangosodd gyntaf yn O’r Pedwar Gwynt fis Awst 2019.

Mae’n ddatblygiad o rai ‘meddilie’ a rannodd mewn cynhadledd dan nawdd y Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol yn 2016. Petrusais cyn ei gwobrwyo – a oedd hi efallai rhy academaidd, yn enwedig o’i chymharu â’r enillydd Saesneg a llawer o’r cynigion eraill mwy newyddiadurol eu naws? Ond dim ond petruso am eiliad wnes i – roedd rhesymeg glir Mererid Hopwood a’i defnydd hyblyg o iaith naturiol i gyfleu’r rhesymeg honno yn llwyddo i greu darn a fydd o ddiddordeb i bawb, yng Nghymru a thu hwnt, sydd â diddordeb yn y berthynas rhwng iaith a hunaniaeth.

Llongyfarchiadau i Mark Redfern a Mererid Hopwood a diolch o galon i PEN Cymru am y gwahoddiad i feirniadu ac i Daniel ac Eluned am drafodaeth ddifyr.

Sian Northey

 

A variety of pieces were nominated for the Emyr Humphreys Award this year, the first year that the competition was held to coincide with his one-hundredth birthday.

The Award asked for nominations of non-fiction writing about Wales, whether it was an essay, a blog or an article, in Welsh or English, with the only guidance being that should be pieces that the nominators thought deserved to be promoted further. There were a variety of subjects represented in the submissions – from Islam in Wales to a discussion about that old wives’ tale that people only speak Welsh when a stranger comes into a pub.

There was a variation in length – with the shortest submission being around 700 words and the longest coming in at 6,000 words. And more challenging for us as adjudicators was the variety in style. We read short pieces with a simple, popular style and tried to evaluate them against heavier, more comprehensive, and academic pieces.

Although this element of choosing the ‘Best in Show’, of comparing a mountain pony with a fair horse, led to a great discussion between us, we agreed about two things: the winners had to say something important and they had to say it in an ingenious way. It was this guidance that led to our choice of two winners – one in Welsh and one in English – two authors who demonstrated imagination and intelligence alongside their aptitude for language.   

The English language winner is Mark S. Redfern for his essayWhen Vice Came to Swansea.’

He describes, and criticises harshly and skillfully, a documentary video made by Vice which became hugely popular on YouTube. The video’s original title was Swansea Love Story. Its title as featured on YouTube however, Teenage Heroin Epidemic, gives an idea of the content. Mark Redfern has a turn of phrase that raises a smile despite the subject: ‘The directors […] donned their pith helmets and went hunting for a story in the badlands of Swansea.’ But he also has a clear argument that goes further than two privileged film makers turning interviews with a couple of young people in Swansea who are addicted to drugs in ‘cack-handed poverty’. He explains clearly that Wales needs a media that can responsibly report on drug use. The rational implication of that, although Redfern does not say it, is that Wales needs media that can report responsibly on everything in our country.

I would like to note that I also greatly enjoyed Gary Raymond’s essay – Prince of Wales Bridge: Symbolism of a Sign. Another essay that makes some important points, robed in even more hard-hitting satire, especially its portrait of Alun Cairns.

There was only one clear winner on the Welsh side –Doethineb Iaith (‘Wisdom of Language’) by Mererid Hopwood, that First appeared in O’r Pedwar Gwynt, August 2019.

It is a development of some thoughts she shared in a conference under the sponsorship of the Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol in 2016. I hesitated before awarding it – was it perhaps too academic, especially compared to the English winner and many of the other more journalistic-type nominations? But I only hesitated for a moment – Mererid Hopwood’s clear rationale and her linguistic agility to naturally convey that rationale succeeds in creating a piece that will be of interest to everyone in Wales and beyond who is interested in the relationship between language and identity.

Congratulations to Mark Redfern and Mererid Hopwood, and a heartfelt thanks to Wales PEN Cymru for the invitation to adjudicate, and to Daniel and Eluned for the interesting discussion.

Sian Northey