Owen Sheers

Owen Sheers

Owen Sheers is an award-winning poet and short story writer, an exciting young talent whose work has been described by former Poet Laureate Andrew Motion as "sharp, fresh, clear and ambitious".

Sheers was born in Fiji in 1974 but brought up in Abergavenny, South Wales. He was educated at King Henry VIII Comprehensive in Abergavenny and read English at New College, Oxford, before gaining his MA in Creative Writing from the University of East Anglia.

The winner of an Eric Gregory Award and the 1999 Vogue Young Writer's Award, Sheers' first collection of poetry, The Blue Book, was shortlisted for the Welsh Book of the Year and the Forward Prize Best 1st Collection 2001.

His début prose work The Dust Diaries, a travel memoir set in Zimbabwe, was shortlisted for the Royal Society of Literature's Ondaatje Prize and won the Welsh Book of the Year 2005.

In 2004 he was Writer in Residence at The Wordsworth Trust and was selected as one of the Poetry Book Society's 20 Next Generation Poets.

Sheers' second collection of poetry, Skirrid Hill was published in November 2005 and won a Society of Authors Somerset Maugham Award. Skirrid Hill has been studied by school children in the UK as it was a text on both the WJEC and AQA A level syllabuses.

His one man play Unicorns, almost is based on the life and poetry of the WWII poet Keith Douglas and was produced by Old Vic, New Voices in 2006 with Joseph Fiennes in the lead role.

Sheers' collaboration with composer Rachel Portman, The Water Diviner's Tale, an oratorio for children, was premièred at the Royal Albert Hall for the BBC Proms 2007.

His first novel, Resistance, imagines an alternative wartime Britain in which German forces have occupied the country, the narrative centring upon the remote Welsh border valley of Olchon in 1944.

Sheers was a Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Fellow at the New York Public Library in 2007. He has written for radio, TV and newspapers and has toured extensively, including visits to New York, Croatia and Hungary.

In 2009 he presented the BBC Four production A Poet's Guide to Britain to tie in with the BBC Poetry Season.

November 2009 saw the release of Sheers' novella White Ravens, part of Seren's commissioned series New Stories from the Mabinogion in which contemporary writers reinvent the medieval tales of the Mabinogion. White Ravens re-considers the story of Branwen, daughter of Llŷr.

In November 2011 the film adaptation of his novel Resistance was released in UK cinemas. Sheers wrote the screenplay for the film ,which features Welsh stars Michael Sheen, Iwan Rheon and Sharon Morgan alongside Andrea Riseborough and Tom Wlaschiha.

In December 2011 Sheers was announced as the first ever artist in residence for the Welsh Rugby Union.

Selected bibliography

  • The Blue Book (2000)
  • The Dust Diaries (2004)
  • Skirrid Hill (2005)
  • Resistence (2008)
  • White Ravens (2009)

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