“Writing gives you a second body — a strange kind of double life”


At last night’s production of Troilus and Cressida, I was seated directly behind Gwyneth Lewis and so had a chance to meet her amiable husband, the subject of her memoir, Two in a Boat: A Marital Rite of Passage and also the subject of her poetic journey, A Hospital Odyssey.  The occasion reminded me that I hadn’t yet posted her talk in the “How I Write” series (more about the series here).  I’ve interviewed Gwyneth here, and written about her on the Book Haven here.

A few highlights from the video, in which Gwyneth discusses the profession that, in the public eye, is “on par with Morris dancing”:

On a “creative writing” education: “They taught you how to revise, the technical thing, but they didn’t teach you about the whole life thing.  For example, the need for discipline.”

“There is a way in which poetry is a very shy animal, and comes only if you stand still for it. If you make a lot of noise, it won’t come.”

“Great poetry is perhaps some of the most intelligent, cerebral activity that you can have.”

“Writing gives you a second body — a strange kind of double life.  The second body is not like the first.  … The other, more impersonal Gwyneth …  comes through my own persona.  I don’t mean to make it sound like a Ouija board thing. It’s not.”

“The muse isn’t a person at all — it’s an aspect of language.”


Gwyneth will be giving another reading of her work at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, May 19, in the Terrace Room of Margaret Jacks Hall.



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