My first collection of poems, My Family and Other Superheroes (Seren, 2014), received the Costa Poetry award and the Wales Book of the Year People’s Choice award. It was shortlisted for the Fenton Aldeburgh First Collection prize. My second collection, Gen (Seren, 2018), also received the Wales Book of the Year People’s Choice award, and in 2019 my poem about Newport Bridge was shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best Single Poem. I received the Troubadour Poetry prize in 2022.
I have read my poems on BBC radio and television, recorded them for the Poetry Archive, and performed them at festivals around the world. My fiction has appeared in New Welsh Review and my nonfiction in anthologies from Wales Arts Review and Nine Arches. I have been a writer-in-residence at the Dylan Thomas Boathouse, Laugharne, and at Gladstone’s Library, and a judge of the Wales Book of the Year and the National Poetry Competition. Individual poems have won prizes in a range of competitions, including the Bridport prize, the Ledbury Poetry Festival International Competition and the Oxford Brookes International Poetry Competition, and appeared in a range of publications, including The Poetry Review and The Guardian. As editor, I have worked with Parthian on Saints and Lodgers: Selected Poems of W. H. Davies (2020) and Letters from Wales by Sam Adams (2023).
My poems are accessible and often comic, focusing on subjects like family, community, history, pop culture and animals. My writing is rooted in the life of the South Wales Valleys, the crammed terraces and abandoned high streets where a working-class and Welsh nationalist politics is hammered out. A compassionate, realist observation of the lives of this area is combined with a surreal imagination. I am currently at work on my third collection of poems, which deepens my commitment to these subjects.
My professional life has been dedicated to developing the writing of others, and sharing the life- changing joy of reading and writing. I worked for more than a decade as a secondary school English teacher, before taking up a position as RLF Fellow in the Law and Politics departments at Cardiff University (2020–23). I have taught workshops in schools, universities and prisons and have been a Literature Wales mentor of new writers. I have delivered courses and tutorials for a wide range of organisations, including the Arvon Foundation, the Poetry Society, Tŷ Newydd, the Poetry Business, the Poetry School, the Writing School and the Garsdale Retreat.