A bit about my research

In my creative and critical work I am interested in how best to make use of historical records and archival material in poetry.

My current creative interests include the global history of pregnancy, representations of motherhood and pregnancy, depicting miscarriage and abortion in art and poetry, and medicine and the female body. I have published widely on these subjects and have a poetry collection forthcoming. I am also working on a non-fiction project around this theme.

My PhD research examined the role that the Holocaust and the Second World War have had in shaping the poetry and creative process of Geoffrey Hill, Tony Harrison, and Jon Silkin. As writers whose poetic consciousness was formed in line with the Second World War, their approach to language, tradition, and the role of art in society was profoundly affected by their historical act of witness. Drawing on their published collections, as well as their largely unexplored letters and manuscripts, my study explored how Hill, Harrison, and Silkin set out to create a new ‘post-war’ poetic idiom for their time; one that could both articulate and alleviate the burden placed upon English and European culture by modern atrocity.

Taking up a strand of this study, after completing my PhD I went on to explore the legacy of First World War poets such as Isaac Rosenberg on the work and style of post WW2 poets. I remain interested in the creative legacy of war poetry on contemporary writing, and continue to research and publish on this subject.

Current and past papers, conferences, and events

  • ‘How to write a love poem’, The Conversation
  • ‘A small fierce being: Jon Silkin, Isaac Rosenberg and the definition of the Anglo-Jewish poet’, Textual Practice,
  • ‘From Baghdad to Sarajevo to Beeston: The front line poetics of Tony Harrison’, English Studies (February 2018).
  • ‘The Enduring Gift of Geoffrey Hill’, Stand International Quarterly: Geoffrey Hill Special Issue, no. 214, vol. 15(2), 2017, pp. 62-67.
  • ‘Thinking VERSUS Feeling: Heartlessness and the Creative Process’, Thinking and Feeling in Contemporary Poetry conference, Plymouth University, May 2016.
  • ‘The transnational eco-poetry of Jon Silkin’, at the Transnational Holocaust Memory International Conference, Leeds, January 2015
  • ‘Leeds is Nigeria and Newcastle is Auschwitz: a Post-Holocaust Cartography in the Poetry of Tony Harrison’, at ‘Transnational memory and traumatic histories’ conference, University of Leeds, 9th May, 2014 (with White Rose College of the Humanities and The University of Copenhagen).
  • ‘Transnational landscapes in the poetry of Geoffrey Hill’. Read at ‘Transnational European circulations: contemporary, historical and Holocaust literature’ conference at the University of Copenhagen, October 2013.
  • ‘The future of the little magazine’ (Panel Chair). Held at ‘Sixty Years of Poetry & Audience’ event at the University of Leeds, October 2013.
  • ‘Isaac Rosenberg: rootless Modernist, proto-Maverick’ paper presented to ‘Maverick Voices’ conference at Durham University, July 2013.
  • ‘Tony Harrison, Yorkshire, and the Holocaust’ paper performed as part of a public lecture series, organised by Leeds City Council and held in Leeds City Library, June 2013.
  • ‘Sixty years of Poetry & Audience’, held at the University of Leeds, October, 2013.
  • ‘Another Jubilee: Stand@60’, held at the University of Leeds, September, 2012.

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