Owen Sheers was born on the Fiji islands in 1974 and grew up in Abergavenny, South Wales and in London. He finished his studies at New College, Oxford, and at the University of East Anglia.
Alongside his literary activities Sheers is also a freelance journalist, television host, and actor. His one-man play, »Unicorns, almost« (2004), was developed by the London theatre »Old Vic New Voices« and starred Joseph Fiennes. He recently worked on an oratorio for children, »The Water Diviner’s Tale«, together with composer Rachel Portman, which was premiered in the Royal Albert Hall for the 2007 BBC Proms.
His central themes are made evident in his first volume of poetry, »The Blue Book« (2000) – separation, loss, desire, death and the process of experience. Sheers works with raw metaphors, free verse, and a style which deals with feelings both tenderly and with empathy.
The search for one’s own roots is a theme in his biographical novel »The Dust Diaries« (2004), about his great uncle, who was a missionary in Zimbabwe. For Sheers, the question of one’s origin is closely connected to the question of language, which is not easy for any Welsh person to answer, and this issue resonates more subtly than overtly in all of his works. His novel, »Resistance« (2007), is set in a small Welsh village. »It wasn’t Welsh as such, but it wasn’t English either, the words slipping either side of the border just as their towns and villages did.« In his alternative version of the Second World War, the invasion of Normandy is unsuccessful and the German troops occupied Britain in 1944. The men in the village disappear overnight and leave the women behind on their farms in the valley, where a German patrol settles, their mission unknown. While the women are tormented by their loss and by the frail hope of seeing their husbands again, the German soldiers welcome the break from the horror of war.
Sheers has received numerous prizes, including the Eric Gregory Award in 1999 and the »Vogue« Young Writer’s Award. »The Blue Book« was nominated for the Forward Prize Best 1st Collection, as well as for the Arts Council of Wales’ Book of the Year Award. Sheers eventually won the award for »The Dust Diaries« in 2005. In 2004 he was Writer in Residence at the Wordsworth Trust in the Lake District. His second poetry collection, »Skirrid Hill« (2005), was awarded the Somerset Maugham Award and is an A level set text in UK schools. Sheers is currently a Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Fellow at the New York Public Library.
© international literature festival berlin