Owen Sheers, the award-winning poet, dramatist and novelist, is set to join Swansea University as Professor in Creativity from 1 May 2015. Based in the University’s Research Institute for Arts and Humanities (RIAH), Owen will play a key role in nurturing creativity among staff, students and the community, as well as continuing to develop his international profile as one of Wales’ finest writers.
Born in Fiji in 1974 and brought up in Abergavenny, South Wales, Owen was educated at King Henry VIII Comprehensive before reading English at New College, Oxford and graduating with an MA in Creative Writing from the University of East Anglia.
Owen joins the team at Swansea with an impressive portfolio of poetry and prose publications, as well as a number of significant theatrical and broadcasting achievements. He has published two poetry collections, The Blue Book and Skirrid Hill which won a Somerset Maugham Award, and his first novel, Resistance, has been translated into ten languages and adapted for the screen in 2011.
Owen’s theatrical writing includes his libretto for Rachel Portman’s oratorio, The Water Diviner’s Tale, which premiered at the Royal Albert Hall for the BBC Proms in 2007. In Easter 2011 Owen wrote the script and novelisation for The Passion, National Theatre Wales’ 72 hour site-specific production in Port Talbot staring and directed by Michael Sheen and described by The Observer as ‘the theatrical event of the decade’. In June 2014 National Theatre Wales produced his site-specific WWI play, Mametz, which was shortlisted for the International Dylan Thomas Prize.
Owen’s verse drama Pink Mist, commissioned by BBC Radio 4 and published by Faber in June 2013, won the Hay Festival Poetry Medal and the Wales Book of the Year 2014, while The Two Worlds of Charlie F. premiered at the Theatre Royal Haymarket and toured the UK and Canada, winning the Amnesty International Freedom of Expression Award at the Edinburgh Festival.
“The post of Professor in Creativity is an exciting appointment” says Owen, “offering the opportunity to delve into the treasure chest of ideas and stories that is a University with a view to creating artistic projects fuelled by the research and energy of Swansea’s academics and students. I’m particularly interested in the possibilities the post offers for engagement and collaboration with the local community, and in doing so, helping to weave a strong cultural thread through the daily life of the University. It’s also my hope that these projects will offer Swansea’s students, in the sciences as well as the arts, an active artistic environment in which they might further develop their skills beyond the lecture hall or the library.”
Professor John Spurr, Head of the College of Arts and Humanities, said: “We are delighted that Owen is joining us as Professor in Creativity. This exciting and innovative role will help to put the Arts at the centre of University life and raise our profile around the world.”
Owen’s forthcoming projects this year include a libretto for Mark Bowden’s new Creation oratorio, based upon a research trip to CERN, which will premiere in April, and the publication of his next novel, I Saw A Man by Faber in June.
- Thursday 2 April 2015 11.25 BST
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- Catrin Newman, Tel: 01792 513454