THIS year’s R S Thomas Festival at Eglwysfach runs from 16 to 18 September and submissions for its poetry competition are being taken now.

For years Eglwysfach, near Aberystwyth, has been welcoming visitors to enjoy the literary festival that celebrates the life and work of renowned 20th century poet, R S Thomas, who was Eglwysfach’s parish priest.

Eglwysfach has held a festival and poetry competition every two years since 2008, and this small parish with its special atmosphere has welcomed speakers and visitors from all over the world.

Last year the festival had to be abandoned because of the pandemic but this year parishioners were determined to hold the festival as usual in the church and parish hall (‘iron room’) that were so familiar to R S Thomas.

A unique feature of the festival is the open poetry competition which always attracts many entrants.

Competitors have been asked to write a poetic response to selected quotations from the work of R S Thomas.

The poetry competition held on the festival Sunday in R S Thomas’s church always has a special atmosphere.

The church is filled with enthusiastic poets from diverse backgrounds who read their poems in turn.

The winner will be announced by the judges, Prof Tony Brown and Gillian Clarke, the former National Poet of Wales.

The church full of bards inspired by his poetry would surely have astonished R S Thomas.

The closing date for the poetry competition is 19 August. This year (because of continuing anxieties about Covid) poets will not be required to attend in person to read out their poems.

For full details of the festival and poetry competition, including booking arrangements, visit

Funds raised by the festival and competition will go towards the upkeep of St Michael’s Church, Eglwysfach, where R S Thomas was vicar from 1954 until his move to his final parish, Aberdaron, in 1967.