SciPo 2018 – a meeting of science and poetry Saturday 9th June

Saturday 9th June, 2018, 10.30-4.30

St Hilda’s College



For the third annual Science Poetry event, organized by me for The Poet’s House Oxford and Sarah Watkinson for St Hilda’s College, we are delighted to welcome guest poets Carrie Etter and Philip Gross to read their work and lead a plenary discussion on the creative common ground linking poetry and science. The discussion will be chaired by Sarah and the event introduced and compered by myself and St Hilda’s lecturer Elsa Hammond. This year SciPo will be broadly themed around the topic of Climate Change, and will include a free-to-enter poetry competition judged by the distinguished poet, Jane Draycott, with winners invited to read at the event. The day will end with an open mic session. Do bring a science-related poem of your own to read. We look forward very much to sharing another SciPo with you.

Tickets: £35 – Click here to book, and for competition entry form and rules:

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Carrie Etter holds a BA from the University of California, Los Angeles and an MFA, MA and PhD from the University of California, Irvine. Her poems have appeared in The New StatesmanPoetry ReviewThe RialtoThe Times Literary Supplement, and elsewhere, while in the US her poems have appeared in The Iowa ReviewThe New RepublicSeneca Review, and many other journals. She is also an essayist and a critic. Her reviews of contemporary poetry have appeared in The IndependentThe Guardian, and The Times Literary Supplement, among others. Etter has published essays on Sherman Alexie, Peter Reading and W. B. Yeats. She won the London New Poetry Award for a best first collection published in the UK and Ireland in the preceding year, for The Tethers. In 2013 she received an Authors’ Foundation grant from the Society of Authors for work on her third collection, Imagined Sons, which went on to be shortlisted for the Ted Hughes Award for New Work in Poetry by the Poetry Society.

Philip Gross has won major prizes including the T.S. Eliot Prize for his collection of poems, The Water Table (2009), an Eric Gregory Award (1981) and the National Poetry Competition (1982). He has been judge for many poetry competitions – in 2014 judging the Hippocrates Prize for Poetry and Medicine, the Magma Poetry Competition and the Medicine Unboxed Creative Prize. His earlier poetry collections include The Ice FactoryCat’s WhiskerThe Son of the Duke of NowhereI.D.The Wasting Game – all collected in Changes of Address: Poems 1980-98. Of his more recent work, the Poetry Book Society selectors wrote ‘At the heart of all of Gross’s collections has been his deep enquiry into and fascination with the nature of embodiment and existence, what water is and does in The Water Table, the role of language, and speech especially, in identity and the self in Deep Field and Later. Now in Love Songs of Carbon Gross tests and feels his amazed way through the mysteries of the multiple manifestations of love and ageing.’

Sarah Watkinson is Emeritus Fellow at St Hilda’s College Oxford and at Oxford University’s Department of Plant Sciences, where she researched and published extensively on the molecular transformations by which fungi play key roles in the terrestrial carbon cycle, and won an Oxford University teaching award for her course on Molecular Microbial Ecology. She is lead author of the internationally respected textbook, The Fungi, third edition 2016, Elsevier. Since gaining the Oxford University Continuing Education Diploma in Creative Writing in 2012 and becoming a student of The Poet’s House Oxford, her poetry has won the Cinnamon Press Pamphlet Prize for Dung Beetles Navigate by Starlight published in 2017, and won or been placed in competitions judged by Carrie Etter, David Morley and George Szirtes, as well as appearing in anthologies and magazines including Antiphon, Ink Sweat & Tears, Litmus, Pennine Platform, Under the Radar, Rialto and Well Versed.



Interviewed for film about Nancy Sandars and Gilgamesh

I was interviewed yesterday for a film about Nancy Sandars who produced the first accessible, poetic-prose version of the Epic of Gilgamesh in English. As she was also a poet herself she was able to connect with the strange lyricism at the core of the epic, rather than producing another scholarly version. It was published in 1960, sold over a million copies and is still in print.

My kitchen turned into Babylon one sunny morning when Mike Tomlinson and Rebecca Huxley came to film the interview with me about Nancy Sandar’s acclaimed version of the Epic of Gilgamesh on 21 February, 2018.

Jenny and RebeccaJenny sitting Mesopotamina libraryAndrew George versionBabylonian booksCamera and booksMike close upMike preparing

Hearth Festival, Gladstone’s Library, 11.45-12.45, Sunday 4th February

I will be talking about my research for Gilgamesh Retold and reading extracts at the lovely, intimate Hearth Festival, Gladstone’s Library, 11.45-12.45, Sunday 4th February



Standing ovation for Amazon

A long day’s journey into morning for me and a night to remember for the rest of my life – 20 November 2017, the world premiere of the wonderful opera by composer Gennadyi Shiroglazov – How I Became an Amazon – based on my book When I Became an Amazon (Iron Press, 1996; Bilingua, Russia, 2002) with brilliant Russian translation by Natalya Dubrovina. Soprano Olga Popova, from the Tchaikovsky Opera and Ballet Company, sang my words in English with such power and beauty it was hard for me to read the poems in between without tears (be strong and focus!) The 30-strong chamber orchestra was conducted by Valery Platonov. My deepest thanks to them all and to our interpreter and translator, Larissa Galanova, for enabling me to understand and communicate and to Serge Lepi and Elena Musihina for their wonderful photographs.

PHOTOS BY SERGE LEPI: Olga and Jenny performing; Gennadyi takes a bow; Audience applause; Valery Platonov; Discussions with translator; Violinist; harpist; cellist (ALL ATTACHED)


11 November 2017 – Seeds of War Requiem and Reading at the Albion Beatnik Bookstore

A wonderful event in the intimate atmosphere of Oxford’s Albion Beatnik Bookstore.  We started with Janet Davey’s beautiful setting of Wilfred Owen’s ‘Futility’ and heard readings in several languages including English, Arabic, Hindi, Greek and German. It included the Oxford pre-launch of Seeds of Bullets, a comparison of the poetry of Adnan al-Sayegh and Wilfred Owen.


11th November, at 7.30, Albion Beatnik Bookstore, Walton Street –


With a specially composed, multi-lingual setting of Wilfred Owen’s poem ‘Futility’ by Janet Davey followed by readings in many languages by Adnan al-Sayegh, Jenny Lewis, Jenyth Worsley, Ruba Abughaida, Peter J. King, Jude Cowan Montague and Chinta Kallie. Tickets £6 at the door.

Seeds of war event

12th November, 2.30pm


With new pamphlets from Gina Wilson, Adnan al-Sayegh and Sarah Watkinson and open mic lead by Scarlett Sabet, Romola Parish and Catherine Atherton. Tickets £5 to include tea from the Woodstock Bookshop –

Two ‘Writing Mesopotamia’ events 1st April

‘Who Can Climb the Sky?’ and launch of the ‘Poetry for Peace 2016’ anthology

2.00-3.30pm, 1st APRIL, 2017, Ashmolean Museum, Oxford.

We’re nearing the end of our major, four-year, Arts Council-funded Writing Mesopotamia project with these two FREE high-profile events at the Ashmolean Museum. It’s been an amazing journey, sometimes stressful but always hugely rewarding and a joy to work with artists of the calibre of Adnan al-Sayegh, Yasmin Sidhwa and Euton Daley – all gifted and consummate professionals – as well as Paul Collins at the Ashmolean Museum who shares our vision of building bridges between English and Arabic-speaking communities through poetry, and supports our work in so many ways.

Who can climb the sky A5 flyer 2 copy


The Place for Film in Poetry. 18th January 2017


Maura, Mark, Jenny, Shakira, Nick & Adnan

5.00-6.00pm, 18th January 2017


As part of the ‘Place for Poetry’ Conference at Goldsmiths in May 2015, the Film Poem Exhibition that I curated with the Head of Digital Media, Mark Edmondson showed how film can be used with poetry at the interface of many different disciplines, including art, medicine and politics. On 2nd March 2016, we ran a second session in collaboration with the Poetry Society where FilmPoem director Alistair Cook came to the college to show his films and discuss different approaches, and Judith Palmer, Director the the Poetry Society, spoke about the films the Society commissions.


By popular demand, Mark and I ran a third session on Wednesday 18th January – ‘The Place for Film in Poetry’ which looked at the technical aspects of combining poetry/ text with film to show how people might begin to use the medium in their own creative practice.


Blake Morrison and Maura Dooley were there as well as a very engaged audience which included Shakira Morar, winner of the Poetry for Peace Prize, judged by Adnan Al-Sayegh and myself. Adnan and I read a poetry extract from ‘Second Song to Inanna/ Ishtar’ before we showed our promotional video, Anthem for Gilgamesh. People said they really enjoyed Anthem for Gilgamesh and that they liked my voice. I’m not a trained singer but you might know I was once a pop/ folk singer with my friends Vashti Bunyan and Angela Strange, so I was very chuffed.


Here are some photos of the event featuring Ed Hawkesworth, Jon Berry and Rowland Prytherch (aka Red2), Tom and Tari Hawkesworth, Iraqi countryside and Imperial War Museum WW1 footage.