Next 30: Sophie McKeand

Sophie McKeand, 41, is a Poet and current Young People’s Laureate Wales, working across Wales

To mark three decades of the IWA’s role in making Wales better, we decided to look forward to ‘the next thirty years’ by introducing some of the people who will be shaping ‘the Welsh agenda’ as the future unfolds. We have teamed up with PricewaterhouseCoopers and their #GreatWales campaign, which celebrates the ideas and people who contribute to the Wales of the future.


Sophie McKeand, 41, is a Poet and current Young People’s Laureate Wales

working across Wales

Working as a community poet for the past decade has been an insightful, challenging and rewarding education. I’m deeply grateful to Literature Wales for the role of Young People’s Laureate Wales and have one more year during which time I hope the projects we have planned will make a genuine difference to those involved. I feel both hopeful and terrified for the future of our young people given the uncertain political and economic climate that jolts alongside a horrifying rise in right-wing rhetoric, intolerance and judgmental attitudes.

As this year unfolds I am becoming more convinced that a radical overhaul of our ways of working in, and as part of, our communities needs to happen. I’ve always held the belief that if communities could truly engage with their creativity at a grassroots level this would encourage deeper understanding of the self and each other, whilst also feeding into a greater sense of empathy for our global community and increasingly fragile ecosystem.

It is difficult to hold to this ideal at times and I’ve reached a point where a new perspective is needed. I had believed that true evolution begins with the community but the last decade has taught me that unless this is rooted in a deep connection with the land no positive lasting change can gain foothold. I remain certain that genuine revolution can only occur one person at a time, so for now the person who needs to change is me.

During this last YPL year I’m moving into a van and figuring out a way to work and travel across Cymru, the UK and Europe with the new poetry collection Rebel Sun – a collection of starlings and socialism – while also writing a new book. Part of this is a political statement responding to the Brexit vote: I am still very much a citizen of Europe and feel a great affinity with our European neighbours; part is an increased yearning to have a more profound connection with the land and become aware of my consumption of precious resources; and part of this is the need to understand how the pressures of modern life and capitalism have compressed our once fertile and rich communities into cold, hard slate when it will take generations to even begin finding ways in which to evolve through this.  


Each day, throughout the month of June, we are celebrating the exceptional people on the Next 30 list by publishing a short pen portrait here on Click on Wales, as well as raising their profile on Twitter using #IWAnext30 and #GreatWales to highlight the exciting contributions these people are making to Wales’ future.


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