Contemporary Poetry Colloquium

11/20/2014 - 4:30pm
40 McCosh Hall
Gwyneth Lewis, Poet, Bain Swiggett Visiting Lecturer of Poetry and English, Department of English, Princeton University

Title TBA

A reading and discussion on the work of

Gwyneth Lewis, poet and Welsh scholar
Bains-Swiggett Visiting Lecturer in Poetry at the Department of English
Thursday 20th November, 4.30pm - McCosh 40

A reception will follow the reading.


Gwyneth Lewis was Wales's National Poet from 2005-06, the first writer to be given the Welsh laureateship. She has published eight books of poetry in Welsh and English. Chaotic Angels (Bloodaxe Books, 2005) brings together the poems from her three English collections, Parables & Faxes, Zero Gravity and Keeping Mum. Her latest book is Sparrow Tree. Gwyneth wrote the six-foot-high words for the front of Cardiff's Wales Millennium Centre (which are located just in front of the space-time continuum, as seen on Dr Who and Torchwood.). She won the Crown at the National Eisteddfod 2012.

Her first collection in English, Parables & Faxes (Bloodaxe Books, 1995), won the Aldeburgh Poetry Festival Prize and was shortlisted for the Forward. Her second. Zero Gravity (Bloodaxe Books, 1998), was shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Poetry. Sparrow Tree (Bloodaxe 2011) won the Roland Mathias Poetry Award. The BBC made a documentary of Zero Gravity, inspired by her astronaut cousin's voyage to repair the Hubble Space Telescope. Gwyneth was part of the Poetry Society's Next Generation promotion.

Gwyneth's first non-fiction book Sunbathing in the Rain: A Cheerful Book on Depression (Harper Perennial 2002), was short listed for the Mind Book of the Year. Her adaptation of the play for BBC Radio 4 won a Mental Health in the Media award. Her second book of non-fiction, Two in a Boat: A Marital Voyage (Fourth Estate, 2005) recounts a voyage made with her husband on a small boat from Cardiff to North Africa.

She is a librettist and has written two chamber operas for children and an oratorio, all were commissioned and performed by Welsh National Opera with amateur singers. Stardust: A Love Story, which explains the basic principles of particle physics, was broadcast on BBC Radio 4. In 2006 she was Writer in Residence at the School of Physics and Astronomy, Cardiff University.

In the 1980s, Gwyneth spent three years in the US as a Harkness Fellow, where she studied at Harvard University and the Graduate Writing Division of Columbia University in the City of New York. She was a television documentary producer and director at BBC Wales and left the BBC to become a freelance writer. She has been a NESTA Fellow (the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts) and has received Wellcome Trust Sciart and Creative Wales awards.

In 2008-09 Gwyneth was the Mildred Londa Wiseman Fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Studies at Harvard University and in 2009-10 Joint Sica/Stanford Humanities Center Fellow in the Arts and Humanities at Stanford University. In 2010 she was given a Society of Authors Cholmondeley Award recognizing a body of work and achievement of distinction. Gwyneth is Honorary Fellow of Cardiff, Liverpool and Bangor Universities, and Honorary Doctor of University of Glamorgan. In 2011 she was Mary Amelia Cummins Harvey Visiting Fellow Commoner at Girton College, Cambridge.

In 2012 Gwyneth was a Writing Fellow at the Centre for New Writing, University of Manchester and from 2012-13 a Royal Literary Fund Fellow at Swansea University.