At Aberystwyth Arts Centre on 20 June, it was announced that Cardiff-based poet Ailbhe Darcyis the winner of the prestigious Wales Book of the Year Award 2019 with her striking collection, Insistence(Bloodaxe Books). The award is run by Literature Wales, the national company for the development of literature in Wales.

Ailbhe Darcy first took to the stage to collect the Roland Mathias Poetry Award, before returning to be crowned winner of the overall title Wales Book of the Year 2019 and receiving a total prize of £4,000 and a specially commissioned trophy, designed and created by the artist Angharad Pearce Jones. The prize was presented to Ailbhe by Professor Elizabeth Treasure, Vice-Chancellor of Aberystwyth University. 

The Wales Book of the Year Poetry Category has been sponsored by The Brecknock Society since 2012, in memory of the Welsh writer and literary critic, Roland Mathias. In this eight-year period, the winning poetry collection has also collected the overall award four times.  This is the concluding year of the Wales Book of the Year Roland Mathias Poetry Prize. 

Insistence is a collection set during the six-year period the poet and her family spent living in a post-industrial city in Midwestern America, during which time Ailbhe Darcy gave birth to her son. The poems explore her feelings of bringing up a child in that particular environment of economic, racial and environmental separation, and at that particular time where climate change is a tangible reality.Insistencehas also won the Pigott Poetry Prize 2019 and was shortlisted for the Irish Times Poetry Now Award 2019 and TS Eliot Prize 2018. 

Speaking about Insistence, Judge Sandeep Parmarsaid: “Insistence, is a proliferation of uncertain and strange lyric events, invigorating poetry at the level of line and language. Her title responds to a work by the poet Inger Christensen that centres around existence. Replacing 'existence' with 'insistence', Darcy’s work opens up a natural world where love erupts with explosive force onto the necessity of living. The contours and iterations of this book and the depth of Darcy's thoroughly human project is operatic, mortal, unforgettable.”

Category Winners

Roland Mathias Poetry Award: Insistence, Ailbhe Darcy(Bloodaxe Books Ltd.)

Aberystwyth University Fiction Award : West, Carys Davies(Granta Publications)

Creative Non-Fiction Award: Moneyland, Oliver Bullough(Profile Books)

Wales Arts Review People’s Choice Award: Gen, Jonathan Edwards(Seren)


The Welsh-langugae Award 

Overall Wales Book of the Year Award / Aberystwyth University Fiction Award / Golwg360 People’s Choice Award: Llyfr Glas Nebo, Manon Steffan Ros (Y Lolfa)

Poetry Award: Cyrraedd a Cherddi Eraill, Alan Llwyd (Cyhoeddiadau Barddas)

Creative Non-Fiction Award: Cymru mewn 100 Gwrthrych, Andrew Green (Gwasg Gomer)

For further information about the Wales Book of the Year Award, visit: