Jenny Lewis is a poet, playwright, children’s author, songwriter and translator who teaches poetry at Oxford University. She has had seven plays and poetry cycles performed at major UK theatres and published four poetry collections including Gilgamesh Retold (Carcanet, 2018) which was a New Statesman Book of the Year, a Carcanet Book of the Year and an LRB Bookshop Book of the Week on publication. She has also published three chapbooks from Mulfran Press in English and Arabic with the exiled Iraqi poet Adnan Al-Sayegh which are part of the award-winning, Arts Council-funded ‘Writing Mesopotamia’ project aimed at building bridges between English and Arabic-speaking communities. Her collaboration, with Adnan and others of extracts from Adnan’s anti-war epic, Uruk’s Anthem, was published as Let Me Tell You What I Saw (Seren, 2020).
Her first poetry book, When I Became an Amazon (Iron Press, 1996) was published in Russian (Bilingua, 2002) and made into an opera first performed by the Tchaikovsky Opera and Ballet Company, 2017. Her work for the theatre includes Map of Stars (2002), Garden of the Senses (2005), After Gilgamesh (2011) and, with Yasmin Sidhwa and Adnan al-Sayegh, Stories for Survival: a Re-telling of the 1001, Arabian Nights (2015). She has published two further collections with Oxford Poets/Carcanet, Fathom (2007) and Taking Mesopotamia (2014) Her writing for children includes a twenty-six-part children’s TV animation series, James the Cat, co-written, with its creator, Kate Canning and first shown in 1998.
Her song-writing credits include ‘17 Pink Sugar Elephants’ with Vashti Bunyan (1964), later developed with new lyrics by Alasdair Clayre into the iconic ‘Train Song’ which has been used on TV commercials (Reebok and Samsung) as well as for the hit US shows True Detective and Patriot.
Jenny’s song Anthem for Gilgamesh, in English and Arabic with Adnan Al-Sayegh has had over 80,000 hits on YouTube and Arabic websites. In March 2021, Jenny completed a PhD on translating Gilgamesh at Goldsmiths, University of London. You can read the thesis here: https://research.gold.ac.uk/id/eprint/30429/1/ENG_Thesis_LewisJ_2021.pdf