About

Jenny Lewis

Photo: Ben Prestney

Jenny Lewis is a poet, playwright, children’s author and songwriter who specializes in cross disciplinary work combining poetry with other art forms.

She first trained as a painter at the Ruskin School of Art before reading English at St Edmund Hall, Oxford. She has published two books of poetry (When I Became an Amazon, Iron Press 1996 and Fathom, Oxford Poets/ Carcanet 2007) and has had several plays and poetry cycles performed at theatres across the UK including her verse drama, After Gilgamesh (for Pegasus Theatre, Oxford) published by Mulfran Press, 2011.

She teaches poetry at Oxford University and her next collection, Taking Mesopotamia, is forthcoming from Oxford Poets/ Carcanet. Jenny also runs poetry workshops and various collaborative projects.

Poetry

Her epic poem When I Became an Amazon, was published by Iron Press in 1996 and Bilingua, Russia in 2002. It was dramatised and toured, including to Oxford, London and San Francisco and extracts broadcast on BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour. Twenty of her poems were published in Oxford Poets 2000 by Carcanet, which was a PBS Recommendation. Her second collection, Fathom, was published in 2007 by Oxford Poets/ Carcanet and a poem from it, ‘Inanna’, was included in the Forward Prize Anthology of best poems of 2008. Her next collection, Taking Mesopotamia, is due from Oxford Poets/ Carcanet in March 2014.

Jenny was recently awarded a Hawthornden Fellowship during which she worked on new translations of extracts from The Epic of Gilgamesh from cuneiform transliterations.

Drama

Jenny has written plays for major UK theatres and worked extensively with Pegasus Theatre, Oxford, on poetry cycles and verse dramas. She has collaborated on two plays for Oxford Youth Theatre Companies – Map of Stars, 2002, a poetry and rock musical and After Gilgamesh, 2011, which was  published by Mulfran Press. She has also been Writer in Residence for Coral Arts writing and teaching poetry on large-scale community arts theatre projects including The Gifts of the Angels (1998) and The Forest That Sailed Away (2000).

Songwriting

Jenny started as a songwriter, sharing digs in Oxford with the singer/ songwriter Vashti Bunyan when they were at the Ruskin School of Art in the 1960s. They wrote 17 Pink Sugar Elephants together which Vashti later transformed into the haunting Train Song used by Reebok and Samsung on TV commercials.