The Green Hollow

Owen Sheers

The extraordinary memorial to the 1966 Aberfan disaster for its 50th anniversary – the collective story as it has never been told.

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In 1966 a coal slag heap collapsed on a school in south Wales, killing 144 people, most of them children. Poet Owen Sheers has given voice to those who still live in Aberfan, the pit village in which tragedy struck, and uses their collective memories to create a striking work of poetic power.

This is a portrait not just of what happened, but also of what was lost. What was Aberfan like in 1966? What were the interests of the people, the social life, the sporting obsessions, the bands of the day? What was the deeper history of the place? Why had it become the mining village it was, and what had it been before the discovery of coal under its soil? Perhaps most significantly: what is Aberfan like today?

The Green Hollow is a historical story with a deeply urgent contemporary resonance; a story of what can happen when a community is run by a corporation. It is also a story known along generational rather than geographic borders. Based on the BBC One production, The Green Hollow is a beautifully rendered picture of a time and place – and a life-altering event whose effects are irrevocable.

Critic Reviews

I cannot think of any better term than sacred to describe the 60 quietly shattering minutes of viewing that were Aberfan:The Green Hollow . . . [A] masterpiece . . . the kind of film for which the international television industry invented awards . . . The softly spoken glory here was Sheers’s language, his largely unrhymed verse, tetrameters, pentameters and variations thereon, the loosest of poetry flowing in line with speech rhythms, often so close to prose as to be almost indistinguishable . . . Fifty years on, Owen Sheers has finally offered the tribute due from a laureate, a post which, on this evidence, he may well one day occupy.

Tom Birchenough [on the BBC adaptation], Arts Desk

Owen Sheers is a poet, novelist and playwright. Twice winner of the Wales Book of the Year, his books of poetry include Skirrid Hill, winner of a Somerset Maugham Award, and the verse drama Pink Mist, winner of the Hay Festival Poetry Medal. In 2018 he was awarded the Wilfred Owen Poetry Award. Owen’s theatrical work includes The Two Worlds…

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