I had a brilliant time at Beacon Festival back this June teaching poetry workshops to groups very different from my usual undergraduate students: kids!
I planned a really great session based around the senses as a starting point for a poem and we had some wonderful results which the students all read up on the Literary Tent stage.
One student in particular told me he hated writing so I suggested he draw his images instead and I was shocked to find that once he’s used art to generate his ideas, he then translated these into text quite easily. His mum was flabbergasted, too. It just goes to show how useful creative practice is for formulating ideas and helping children to access learning tasks. Shame the government aren’t catching on in their policy making!
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.
I’m delighted to have been shortlisted for the Melita Hume Prize 2017 from Eyewear Publishing. Eyewear have an incredibly strong track record in bringing exciting (and award winning) poetry collections into the world and I couldn’t be more thrilled to have City of Rivers under consideration. My fingers are crossed but I’m delighted just to be shortlisted. I really am.
Very, very excited to break my publication drought with two poems in The Open Ear literary journal from my alma mater Queen’s University Belfast! The journal will launch later this year and hopefully, I’ll be able to head over to Belfast for the launch!
Very excited to be giving a paper on my research at the NAWE Conference 2017 in York in November. I’ll be speaking about the difficulties of working with a family archive and exploring Maggie Nelson’s Jane: a Murder to posit possible lyric solutions.