|Years active||fl. 1460–1502|
|Known for||Erotic poetry|
Gwerful Mechain (fl. 1460–1502), is the only female medieval Welsh poet from whom a substantial body of work is known to have survived. She is known for her erotic poetry, in which she praised the vulva among other things.
Her father was Hywel Fychan of Mechain in Powys, her mother was named Gwenhwyfar, and she had at least four siblings (three brothers and a sister). She married John ap Llywelyn Fychan and had at least one child, a daughter named Mawd.
She is perhaps the most famous female Welsh-language poet after Ann Griffiths (1776–1805), who was also from northern Powys. Her work, composed in the traditional strict metres, including cywyddau and englynion, is often a celebration of religion or sex, sometimes within the same poem.
Probably the most famous part of her work today is her erotic poetry, especially Cywydd y Cedor ("Poem to the Vagina"), a poem praising the vulva. In it, she upbraids male poets for celebrating so many parts of a woman's body but ignoring "the girl's middle". "Let songs to the quim grow and thrive", she adjures her readers. "Noble bush, may God save it".
She actively participated in the poetic culture of her day. Many of her surviving poems are examples of ymrysonau (poetic or bardic rivalry) with contemporaries such as Dafydd Llwyd of Mathafarn, Ieuan Dyfi and Llywelyn ap Gutun.
- Koch, John T (2006). Celtic Culture: A Historic Encyclopedia Vol. 1. ABC-CLIO. p. 862. ISBN 9781851094400.
- Harries, Leslie. "GWERFUL MECHAIN (1462? – 1500), poetess". Dictionary of Welsh Biography. National Library of Wales.
- Gramich (2018), pp. 7–8.
- Herbert McAvoy & Watt (2015), p. 11.
- Gramich (2018), p. 42.
- Gramich (2018), pp. 44–5.
- Howells, Nerys Ann, ed. (2001). Gwaith Gwerful Mechain ac Eraill. University of Wales Centre for Advanced Welsh and Celtic Studies. ISBN 0-947531-26-2.
- Gramich, Katie, ed. (2018). The Works of Gwerful Mechain. Broadview Press. ISBN 978-1554814145.
- Herbert McAvoy, Liz; Watt, Diane (2015). The History of British Women's Writing, 700-1500: Volume One. Palgrave Macmillan UK. ISBN 978-1349313761.
- Cocking, Lauren (9 August 2019). "On the Gleefully Indecent Poems of a Medieval Welsh Feminist Poet Gwerful Mechain". Literary Hub. Retrieved 3 March 2023.
- Cybulskie, Danièle (January 2019). "Gwerful Mechain and the Joy of (Medieval) Sex". Medievalists.net. Retrieved 3 March 2023.
- Foster, Donald W.; O'Connell, Michael; Reno, Christine; Spiegel, Harriet, eds. (2013). "Gwerful Mechain" (PDF). Women's Works. Vol. 1: 900 – 1550. Wicked Good Books. p. 466. ISBN 978-0-9882820-0-1. Archived from the original (PDF) on 8 August 2017.
- Gramich, Katie (2005). "Orality and Morality: Early Welsh Women's Poetry" (PDF). Cardiff University. Archived from the original (PDF) on 30 September 2018.
- Greig, Adelaide (2020). "The Extraordinary Medieval Woman: Responding to the Critical Reception of Gwerful Mechain's Poetry". Melbourne Historical Journal. 47: 43–55. Retrieved 3 March 2023.
- Olsen, Kirsten (1994). Chronology of Women's History. Greenwood Publishing Group. ISBN 978-0-313-28803-6.
- Phillips, Rhea Seren (12 December 2019). "Medieval poet who wrote about domestic abuse, female sexuality – and in praise of vaginas". The Conversation. Retrieved 3 March 2023.
- Stone, Jon (30 October 2012). "Gwerful Mechain: Themesong from Cunt (Version of Cywydd y Cedor)". Body. Retrieved 3 March 2023.