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Poem by Gwyneth Lewis

Eyewear is very pleased to welcome Gwyneth Lewis (pictured) this Friday. Lewis is one of the most significant Welsh poets - and, given the lineage, which includes (in no historical order) Lynette Roberts, Dylan Thomas, Dannie Abse, Peter Finch, W.S. Graham, R.S. Thomas and others, that's saying a lot. In other words, she's one of the best poets now writing, and, excitingly, in several languages.

Lewis was appointed Wales’s first National Poet from 2005-06. She has published six books of poetry in Welsh and English. Her first collection in English, Parables & Faxes (Bloodaxe, 1995) won the Aldeburgh Poetry Festival Prize and was short listed for the Forward, as was her second, Zero Gravity (Bloodaxe, 1998). The BBC made a documentary of Zero Gravity, inspired by her astronaut cousin's voyage to repair the Hubble Space Telescope. Y Llofrudd Iaith ('The Language Murderer', Barddas, 2000), won the Welsh Arts Council Book of the Year Prize and Keeping Mum was short listed for the same prize in 2004. She composed the words in six-foot high letters on the front of Cardiff's iconic Wales Millennium Centre.

She has written three libretti for Welsh National Opera. The first, The Most Beautiful Man from the Sea to music by Richard Chew and Orlando Gough was performed by a choir of five hundred. Redflight/ Barcud, music by Richard Chew and Dolffin, music by Julian Philips, have toured schools in Wales and England. Lewis was a scholar at Girton College, Cambridge and was awarded a double first in English literature. She received a D.Phil in English from Oxford, having written a thesis on eighteenth-century literary forgery. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, a member of the Welsh Academi and a NESTA Fellow. In 2005 she was elected Honorary Fellow of Cardiff University.


Sea Virus

I knew I should never have gone below
but I did, and the fug of bilges and wood
caught me aback. The sheets of my heart
snapped taut to breaking, as a gale
stronger than longing filled the sail
inside me. To be shot of land
and its wood smoke! To feel the keel
cold in a current! To see the mast
inscribing water like a restless pen
writing a fading wake! It’s true,
I’m ruined. Not even peace will do
to keep me ashore now. Not even you.


poem by Gwyneth Lewis
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