Gwyneth Lewis - Tuesday 25th October

Some years ago I was captivated by a sequence of poems -- enticingly, 'A Space Requiem' -- which was published in 1998 and in part recounted the writer's experience of watching a cousin, astronaut Joe Tanner, going into space on the Shuttle in order to install a new spectograph into the Hubble Telescope. His orange space suit prompted a striking parallel with "a Hindu bride" but the mode was not celebratory: "You carry your helmet like a severed head. / We think of you as already dead." The collection was entitled 'Zero Gravity' and its author was the remarkable Gwyneth Lewis, who will be reading for us on Tuesday 25th October.

Gwyneth Lewis was Wales's National Poet from 2005-06, the first writer to be given the Welsh laureateship. She has published eight books of poetry in Welsh and English. Chaotic Angels (Bloodaxe Books, 2005) brings together the poems from her three English collections, Parables & Faxes, Zero Gravity and Keeping Mum. Her latest book is Sparrow Tree. Gwyneth wrote the six-foot-high words for the front of Cardiff's Wales Millennium Centre (which are located just in front of the space-time continuum, as seen on Dr Who and Torchwood.)

'Gwyneth Lewis's astonishing book-length poem... Lewis's unfettered imagination transforms weighty subject matter into a heady mix of dream vision, ripping yarn and love story' The Guardian (on 2010 Times Book of the Year A Hospital Odyssey)

A Next Generation Poet [2004], she has won the Aldeburgh Festival Prize and been shortlisted multiple times for the Forward Prize for Poetry. She has written several non-fiction books and, as a librettist, two chamber operas for children and an oratorio. She has been a television documentary producer and director at BBC Wales, spent time as a Harkness Fellow at Harvard and at Columbia University in the City of New York, and in 2006 she was Writer in Residence at the School of Physics and Astronomy, Cardiff University.

'She's one of the best poets now writing, and, excitingly, in several languages.' Todd Swift

In 2008-09 Gwyneth was the Mildred Londa Wiseman Fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Studies at Harvard University and in 2009-10 Joint Sica/Stanford Humanities Center Fellow in the Arts and Humanities at Stanford University. In 2010 she was given a Society of Authors Cholmondeley Award recognizing a body of work and achievement of distinction. Gwyneth is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and an Honorary Fellow of Cardiff and Liverpool universities. In 2011 she was Mary Amelia Cummins Harvey Visiting Fellow Commoner at Girton College, Cambridge.

Tuesday 25th October, The Punter, Open Mic floor spots, books for sale. Doors 7.30pm Readings 8pm. Tickets on the door only, £4/£3.


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.

Gwyneth Lewis