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Elizabeth Cook

Poet, Non-fiction writer, Radio/tv/screenwriter
Queen Mary, University of London

Elizabeth Cook is a poet, fiction writer, and librettist, interested in the ways in which the past is continually being re-fashioned and re-known. Achilles (Methuen 2001) moves from the Homeric Bronze Age to Keats in the nineteenth century while Lux (Scribe, 2019) takes a story from the Hebrew Scriptures through to the English Tudors. She has collaborated with composers and was librettist for Francis Grier’s oratorio, The Passion of Jesus of Nazareth (Radio 3, 2006). The title poem of her first poetry collection (Bowl, Worple 2006) was a Poem on the Underground. She has written reviews and essays (London Review of Books, Poetry London, Granta online) and broadcast on TV and radio. Having read English at Oxford and done a PhD at the Warburg Institute, she worked as a university lecturer for some years and gave the 1983 Chatterton Lecture (on ‘The Bravery of Shakespeare’s Sonnets’) at the British Academy. She continues to love teaching — often in the form of writing workshops or one-to-one mentoring. In addition to university teaching she has taught in prisons and a Franciscan friary where she regularly runs poetry study weekends. Her work is grounded in a strong sense of bodily reality. A performance version of Achilles won a Fringe First at the 2000 Edinburgh Festival and has since been performed (often by her) at the Royal National Theatre and many festivals here and abroad. She advocates reading aloud and learning poems by heart to create an inner store for rainy days.

Elizabeth Cook
Image credit: Peter Everard-Smith

Fellowships

Queen Mary, University of London 2021/22
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