Jenny Lewis trained as a painter at the Ruskin School of Art before reading English at Oxford University and gaining an MPhil in Poetry from the University of South Wales. She is a poet, playwright and songwriter, specialising in cross-arts collaborations of poetry, music, dance and visual art. She teaches poetry at Oxford University and is a Core Writing Tutor at Pegasus Theatre, Oxford. Jenny is currently studying for a PhD at Goldsmiths College, working on a new version of The Epic of Gilgamesh.
Jenny has published three collections of poetry When I Became an Amazon (Iron Press, 1996) Fathom and Taking Mesopotamia (Oxford Poets/ Carcanet 2007/ 2014) and two chapbooks of poetry in English and Arabic with the Iraqi poet, Adnan Al-Sayegh – Now as Then: Mesopotamia-Iraq and Singing for Inanna (Mulfran Press 2013/ 2014). Her reviews and articles have been published by leading journals including World Literature Today, Poetry London and PN Review and her prizes and awards include a Hawthornden Fellowship, 2012 and the New Writer Prize 1997.
Theatre and performance
Her work for theatre includes The Art of Loving Honourably, a poetry and early music cycle based on troubadour lyrics with the early music group, Third Voice (literary festivals and Royal Festival Hall, London, 2003) and Map of Stars (2002), Garden of the Senses (2005) and After Gilgamesh (2011) all for Pegasus Theatre, Oxford.
Jenny started as a songwriter with her friend Vashti Bunyan in the 1960s. They wrote ‘17 Pink Sugar Elephants’ together which Vashti transformed into the haunting Train Song used on TV commercials and the US TV series True Detective. Jenny’s song Anthem for Gilgamesh (part of the ‘Writing Mesopotamia’ project) has launched several festivals (including the Berlin Festival of Poetry and Human Rights, 2014).
Reviews of Taking Mesopotamia
[Taking Mesopotamia] is compulsory reading, even for those who don’t normally read poetry: an eloquent rejoinder to those who say poetry can’t, or shouldn’t, concern itself with public matters.”
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