Gwyneth Lewis was Wales’s inaugural National Poet in 2005–2006. She is an award-winning poet in both Welsh, her first language, and English. Lewis wrote the six-foot-high words on the front of Cardiff’s new Wales Millennium Centre, rumored to be the largest poem in the world. She is also a prizewinning playwright and librettist. Her first nonfiction book, Sunbathing in the Rain: A Cheerful Book on Depression (Flamingo, 2002), was short-listed for the Mind Book of the Year. Her second, Two in a Boat: A Marital Voyage (Fourth Estate, 2005), recounts a voyage made with her husband on a small boat from Cardiff to North Africa. Both titles are also published in the United States.
During her time as a Radcliffe fellow, Lewis will work on “A Hospital Odyssey,” an epic poem about the body’s journey through ill health. The poem will use the epic tradition to follow an emotional trajectory through illness, diagnosis, and healing on a mythic stage. She will address such questions as: What is health? How are we responsible for our own bodies and those of others? What does it mean to care for another person?
Lewis is a member of the Royal Society of Literature and an honorary fellow of Cardiff University. She spent three years in the United States as a Harkness Fellow and has also held a NESTA (National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts) Fellowship and a Wellcome Trust arts award.