A poetry and Song Festival.
The Welsh community of Chubut has been celebrating the Eisteddfod, a poetry and song festival, on a yearly basis since 1965, their centennial in Argentina. The first such festival took place in Rawson in 1865 a few months after the first group of settlers disembarked in Puerto Madryn. In the 1930s the Spanish language was incorporated into the festivities, and a separate festival was established for youths. The official competition for young people takes place in September in Gaiman and the one for adults (the “Eisteddfod del Chubut”) in October in Trelew. Eisteddfodau are also staged in Puerto Madryn, Trevelin and Dolavon.
The festival harks back to the Middle Ages in Wales, when bards won a place of honor in the courts of the princes with their poems about the feats of the heroes.
Whoever won the poetry competition was awarded a chair in which to sit at the table of the lord. For this reason, “eisteddfod,” the name of the festival, means “being seated.”
Later, in the 16th century, the prizes received by the poets, singers and musicians who won such contests were miniature silver objects referring to their specialties: a chair in the case of the poet, a tongue in that of the singer, and musical instruments for the musicians.
The Chubut festival includes competitions in art, crafts, photography, dance and choral singing, but the main ones center on poetry. There are important prizes for poems in Spanish, but the most prized award of all – the Bard’s Chair – goes to the winner in the Welsh Poetry category. The prize is a simple wooden chair with arm rests.
People come from all over the country, and sometimes even from Wales. This year the Chubut Eisteddfod will take place from October 29 to 31 in the Racing Gymnasium in Trelew. See the program at http://www.eisteddfod.org.ar/.
PHOTO CREDITS: Eisteddfod del Chubut.