Archives, Collage Poems and Zoom

It was wonderful to finally arrive at Homerton back at the beginning of October. Due to Covid restrictions, the recruitment process for the Poet-in-Residence role had been totally online. Since I was appointed, I’d had many Zoom coffees with new colleagues but nothing could compare to arriving at the leafy campus on Hills Road.

The remit of the Jacqueline Bardsley Poet-in-Residence is simple: to put poetry at the heart of college life. The residency is named after Mrs Jacqueline Bardsley, a college alumna who passionately believed in the power of poetry to foster self-expression and build strong communities.  In service of this aim, during my residencies I’ve organised my time around three strands: writing and performing new poetry; teaching and interdisciplinary research.

I began the residency by using poetry to engage with the college’s archives. My PhD research sought to engage with the way that archives curate meaning, translating it into poetic form. I’m particularly interested in how archives work as an amalgam of material facts juxtaposed with absences and silences. Extending this idea at Homerton, I’ve been working with physical materials to produce ‘collage poems’ as well as novel poetry.

One of the definite highlights of the residency is teaching. I kicked off our poetry-writing workshop series in October with sessions focused on exercises and games students can use when they are feeling uninspired. Over the course of Michaelmas, we’ll work on shaping these initial ideas into fully-fledged poems and the stunning results will be published on the college website and in an anthology next year.

Listening to our guest poet for the term Marvin Thompson

On the interdisciplinary research front, I’ve been thinking about what poetry-writing methods can bring to other subjects. The College has a strong track record in Education and I’ve been collaborating with Homerton Changemakers to ask how poetry might help us produce graduates with the dynamic skillset needed to address the ecological, geo-political psychological questions of our time.

It’s been a strange start to my time at Cambridge (teaching via Zoom and ‘live-streaming’ my writing via social media are certainly new to me!) but a positive one, nonetheless. This is not least because of all the support given to me by the Cambridge community. I look forward to how the residency will continue into the new year.

Two New Poems

I have two new poems coming out in magazines over the next few months.

My poem ‘Ashes’, which is taken from the collection I’ve just finished as part of my PhD, will be published in the December issue of Streetcake Magazine. Streetcake is a magazine of experimental writing and a fitting home for this collage poem.

I’ll also have a new poem in the November issue of perhappened mag. perhappened are interested in what they call ‘the frayed edge of memory’ and again, this seems a perfect home for my poem ‘Fox Studies’ which thinks so much about memory, trauma and expression.

I wanted to write a bit about these poems because I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the submissions process. I’m doing a lot of private mentoring and teaching now (click here for details if you’re interested) and have a lot of students who are focused in getting their poems into the ‘big’ magazines like Poetry Review and Granta etc. Those magazines are great but no matter how good a poem is, sometimes it just won’t be a good fit. I try to encourage my students to find magazines that publish poems that are similar to theirs in terms of tone, form or theme. I know from my own experiences editing bath magg, we encounter some great poems that just aren’t in line with what we’re trying to do. So if you’re thinking about submitting some poems, really do read the magazines first and try to find somewhere that is dialogue with your own work.

When my new poems are published, I’ll be sure to put links in the ‘Poems’ section of this site.

‘the love i do to you’ longlisted for the Poetry Book Awards

I’ve just received news that the love i do to you has been longlisted for the Poetry Book Awards 2020.

The award is an annual, international book award given to the best poetry books produced by indie writers, self-published authors or books published by small presses.

I’m over the moon to have the book longlisted for the award and look forward to reading the other books from the longlist.

You can check out the other titles on the longlist here or buy the love i do to you here.

Jacqueline Bardsley Poet-in-Residence at Homerton College, The University of Cambridge

Over the moon to announce I’ve been selected as the Jacqueline Bardsley Poet-in-Residence at Homerton College, The University of Cambridge.

Over the coming year I will be creating new work for and with the college community, teaching and generally working to put poetry at the heart of college life.

The position has been generously funded by Dr Norman Bardsley in memory of his wife Jacqueline. Jacqueline was a huge proponent of the power of poetry and it’s an honour to take up the position in her memory.

For the full press release click here:

4 Poems in ‘On Commemoration’

Book Cover Peter Lang

Having spent the past few months working on the proofs (honestly … working in concrete media has required a lot of learning about Photoshop and image resolution!), I’m delighted to announce I have 4 poems and critical introductions in this important anthology published by Peter Lang.

The brainchild of Catherine Gilbert, Kate McLoughlin and Niall Munro On Commemoration asks how, in the twenty first century, can we do commemoration better? How can commemoration contribute to post-war reconciliation and reconstruction?

My four poems were written in the archives of the Pitt Rivers Museum, Oxford. They use experimental and interdisciplinary methods to think about colonial archives, white supremacy and writing. They explore how whiteness in these archives and indeed, in my own writing, has often become coded as ‘default’ or ‘neutral’ and the consequences of this poise of ‘neutrality’ for history and identity.

You can find out more about the anthology here:

Two blogs I wrote for TORCH about my experiences in the archives are available here and here.

You can read three other poems from the collection in The Oxonian Review here.

A pamphlet of all the poems I wrote for the residency is forthcoming from Dancing Girl Press (hopefully in 2020, Covid depending!)