Welsh Rapper Wins International Poetry Book Awards

Rufus Mufasa was announced overall winner of this prestigious competition in Pontypridd today.  Judged by Welsh writer, poet and environmental activist John Evans.

Second place went to Australian performance poet Caroline Reid for her book, ‘Siarad’ and Jenny Rowbory came third. It should be noted that Jenny’s book is the next big push in her Herculean fundraising attempt for life-saving surgery in the US, which is not available to her in the UK.
Competition judge John Evans said,

“The quality of the work produced by all the entrants this year was of a very high standard. Today sadly, poetry has largely become an art form firmly tied to an establishment elite and academia. Arts Council’s circulate precious public funds among a small group of people to write, publish, review (always positive), and win their prestigious sounding awards. Meanwhile poetry book sales are shockingly low given the money spent, the work is ignored outside of this cosy arrangement, and the public are either disengaged or denied access to the wonderful world of poetry. While judging this competition, I was delighted to discover that despite all of this people throughout the world are finding their own voices, creating their own publishing and performing scene, and are exploring all of the possibilities of this exciting form of writing. Poetry is reborn. It has been taken over by people of all ages and backgrounds who want to express themselves through verse. The three winning poets were perfect examples of this growing phenomenon. 
“First place went to Rufus Mufasa, poet, performer, MC and mother, with her outstanding and highly original autobiographical collection. Second prize to Australian writer Caroline Reid, herself another very talented performer and wordsmith who through verse also takes us on a journey through life. In third place is Jenny Rowbory, a young girl struck down by a rare illness (Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome) which left her bedbound, and who has spent the following years staring at the ceiling while waiting for life saving surgery. Jenny’s poems are heart-breaking, yet her work is also inspirational, and encouraging – it is the work of a remarkable woman and another hugely talented writer.”

Event organiser Dave Lewis added,

“The Poetry Book Awards is a fantastic contest and we’ve received some fantastic poetry books from all over the globe. Past winners have included some fabulous writers, namely, Jocelyn Simms, Jenny Mitchell, Anne Walsh Donnelly, Fiona Perry, David J Costello and Kathy Miles and our list keeps growing. Congratulations Rufus, Caroline and Jenny who are now added to that roll of honour!

 “Whilst all our winning books are terrific we can’t not mention the plight of Jenny Rowbory, our third place winner. Her story is truly tragic and has already been covered by the BBC. More recently Lee Mack, Rob Brydon and David Mitchell’s tour ‘Town To Town’ raised a massive £16,317 that was added to her GoFundMe total. Please read her story on her webpage.”

Fiction Poetry

Introducing Trystan Lewis, poet

The Dark Trilogy cover

In The Dark Trilogy, Trystan Lewis the poet, my fictional alter ego, has his work and his life examined through the critical lens of his scholarly friend and editor. Trystan’s scholarly childhood – lifelong – friend knows him so well! So well that in explaining the poem at the heart of the story he puts Trystan’s life and his writing under a microscope! As only he could! And he finds that there is so much to tell… as you will discover in the partly fictional autobiography that makes up the first book of the Trilogy.  And in analysing the poem and setting it amongst other poems by the poet – many of which, including some unpublished works, are quoted in the book – the scholar also finds a hidden story, one that the poet did not realise he had told. So the book holds two life stories displaced by several hundred years, histories which interweave and come together in the Welsh mountains in the present day.

Fiction Poetry

It all started with a poem…


     he met a force


            it held him

… and wonder drained the world of substance

            re-arranged the pages of his book to give more radiant

                                                                                    a reading…

It is about a life: the poet’s life, my life… and as The Dark Trilogy would have it, my lives.

Essay Poetry


When I told this story to a friend, he responded with the unexplained and, I thought, unhelpful comment that a lot had been written about coincidences, and I suppose he may well have been surprised when – immediately – I did not understand his thinking or recognise the link… or he may have realised that I had simply not got that far on in the volume he had recently given me – Paul Auster’s Collected Prose. Some days later – I could see why he had spoken as he did.

There is a whole section of short essays in which Auster recounts a number of strange, linked events – maybe two or three meetings, letters or telephone calls – that were all completely independent but at the same time were linked by a place, a person or, in one case, a song – his daughter singing and moments later a slip of paper fluttering from a new book with the first line of that same song, and nothing else, written on it. Having read these, I cannot pretend that my own single coincidence of timing is so remarkable, but nevertheless no other single word describes the almost magical juxtaposition of timing and relevance.

I was sitting at my desk – this desk – composing and typing a new poem. I always compose at the keyboard, although somewhere at the back of mind I am conscious that it is not the romantic image of a poet scribbling in notebooks replete with crossings out and corrections that people imagine… but having written this way professionally for so long, I find that I compose as easily, type faster than I could write and can make corrections or changes of order so easily on the fly that anything else would be simply too pedestrian. On this day, I was writing a short poem that reflected a mood caused, I suppose, by the fact that I had been confined to my cottage for about five weeks due to Covid-19 that was sweeping through country after country and with, in my mind, echoes of a podcast about the Beat Poets – Allen Ginsberg, Gary Snyder, Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Gregory Corso.

The poem, my poem, was called Corona Sutra, and to anyone who knows Ginsberg, the title and the last line, a direct quotation from him – ‘The gray Sunflower poised against the sunset’ – will be familiar. I had reached a couple of lines from where I expected to end and was just beginning to search my mind for a word or phrase that would perfectly describe new – fresh – life emerging from oceans when my iPad, which was also on my desk, pinged. I have on it an online dictionary that I use from time to time to check meanings or to find an alternative – a better alternative – word and the software is set to display a word of the day, most of which are entirely unremarkable – I think I have only followed up to discover a new word on half a dozen occasions over the years. But this time, as if it had been following my typing, with all its pauses for thought and correction, with the greatest attention, it presented me – precisely in the second I paused – with the word I needed… a word I probably would not have considered although I was sure that I had heard it used before. Not immediately able to remember but feeling that I should know its meaning, maybe I even had some premonition, I gave in and followed the link. The word was ‘ylem’ which means the initial substance from which all matter is said to be derived. Reader, I used it! How could I not have done so? Here is the poem.

Corona Sutra

And when in that world dusk
The last Adam has
His Eve despaired
And weeps to lie beside her
In civilisation’s arid dust –
Will he still hear each ragged breath
Yield to time’s dull pressure
Will promises of redemption
Still echo empty above the void
And will his fading mind despair:
Those mighty kingdoms of the world
Laid low by national pride
Those peoples who might
Destiny have thrust aside

And as the dry winds barren blow
Or some ylem sea-splashes to a desert shore
Will there be yet a God
Watching over the wasted land
Or did he only on Adam’s passing in memory leave
The gray Sunflower poised against the sunset