In addition to my PhD (writing poems, writing a critical thesis and panicking — a lot) I’m also director of Oxford Writers’ House, a hub in Oxford connecting writers across the city’s universities and local community. Last Thursday we had our first event of the new academic year, an open-mic led by the US poet Danniel Schoonebeek. It was honestly a brilliant night. We packed out the Albion Beatnik Bookshop and it was standing room only.
Oxford is a weird place. It’s brilliant but it is weird. It has all these … institutions but no shuttling between them. I find it especially weird as a working-class, poor woman who… went to private school and Oxford and is a poet?? Is that possible? Maybe I mean my parents are working class having left school at 15. Regardless, people in the centre think I’m like them but I live with a third of myself deep in imposter syndrome, a third in socialist outrage and a third desperately hoping to be liked. Or I did. I don’t really anymore. I’m too busy putting those tensions into the page instead of my life. And I have to skills and experience (thank the Lord and the 80s economy that brought my parents to the city) to help encourage a little movement between the different republics. Or at least that’s what I’m trying to do. So here’s a photo of me at our first event persuading our audience to question their capital and buy books like Danniel’s that try to disrupt the centre and get a little movement going.