School of English Literature, Language and Linguistics

Poetry

Poetry

The School of English is a home for poetry in the region and a major national and international centre for the writing, study, publication and performance of poetry.

Our work in this area integrates creative and critical work, so that academic research into poetics, for instance, or the history of poetry, informs the work of the practicing poets based in the School. We also care for one of the most important concentrations of archival material in English language poetry in the world.

In a radical expansion of our existing holdings (which include the Sid Chaplin and Barry MacSweeney archives), we recently acquired the archive of Bloodaxe Books, one of the most important poetry publishers in the world, as a living archive, which will continue to expand as new materials are deposited. We have additionally acquired the Flambard Press archive. These substantial investments are a wonderful resource for staff, postgraduates and undergraduates alike.

Film about the Bloodaxe archive by Kate Sweeney

Newcastle Centre for the Literary Arts

Through the Newcastle Centre for the Literary Arts (NCLA) the School provides a site for enhancing the public understanding of poetry. The NCLA hosts a popular and wide-ranging programme of regular visiting poets from around the world (including Fred D'Aguiar, Anne Stevenson, August Kleinzhaler, Paul Muldoon and Seamus Heaney), as well as the annual Newcastle University Bloodaxe Poetry Lectures, which bring leading poets like Jane Hirshfield, Ruth Padel, George Szirtes and Fiona Sampson to speak about contemporary poetry and the practice of poetry.

We have strong publication links with Bloodaxe Books that includes the publication of these lectures, and together have produced anthologies. The NCLA adds immeasurably to the School's vibrant research culture, participating in collaborations with the British Council, Arts Council, The Poetry Society, The Poetry Book Society and the Poetry School, organising major poetry events and competitions, and supporting the publication, broadcast and dissemination of new work in poetry.

In 2013, the NCLA set up the Flambard Poetry Prize for new poets, supported by Friends of the Library, and in 2014 will take over the running of the Basil Bunting Poetry Prize.

Publications

Academics working in the School include practising poets and critics, editors and translators. They work on poetry from the Icelandic sagas to the present. Our approach is always to encourage the integration of creative and critical practice.

Professor Sean O'Brien, three times winner of the Forward Prize for Poetry, has published more than a dozen major collections of verse, including the T.S. Eliot Prize-winning The Drowned Book (2007), November (2011) and his Collected Poems (2012). His critical works include The Deregulated Muse: Essays on Contemporary British and Irish Poetry (1998) and Journey to the Interior: Ideas of England in Contemporary Poetry (2012).

Professor Bill Herbert's recent collections include the critically-acclaimed Omnesia (2013), which sits alongside his pioneering anthology of contemporary Chinese verse Jade Ladder, and translations of Somali poets.

Professor Jackie Kay's poetry includes her collections Fiere (2011) and Forward Prize-winning The Adoption Papers (1991), as well as several distinguished collections of children's poetry, including Two's Company (1992), Three Has Gone (1994) and The Frog Who Dreamed She Was an Opera Singer (1999). She has contributed to critical work in our postcolonial research cluster, and, with James Procter, co-edited the important collection of black and Asian poets Out of Bounds (2012).

Other poets working in the School include Professor Linda Anderson, whose first collection, Greenhouse, appeared in 2013.

Among critical studies of poetry produced in the School are Professor Michael Rossington's study of Shelley's poetics, Professor Jennifer Richards' work on early modern poetry, and Dr. Jennifer Orr's work on the eighteenth-century Ulster working-class poet Samuel Thomson. The poetry of Gerard Manley Hopkins provides a particular area of expertise, with Dr Martin Dubois' critical studies and Professor Kelsey Thornton's edition of Hopkins' Letters (2013). In addition to her poetry, Professor Anderson has written a monograph on the work of Elizabeth Bishop, and, with Jo Shapcott, edited the collection of essays Elizabeth Bishop: Poet of the Periphery which appeared in the Newcastle/Bloodaxe Poetry series.

The editing of poetry is especially strong in the School, beginning chronologically with Professor Diana Whaley's two volumes of poetry from the Sagas, and including Dr Ruth Connolly and Professor Tom Cain's editions of Robert Herrick's verse and Rossington's major, ongoing contributions to the Longman Poems of Shelley.

Teaching

Drawing on our wealth of expertise and resources, poetry is embedded at the heart of our teaching practice at both undergraduate and postgraduate level. Our students work with world-leading experts and unique resources to gain hands-on experience in the writing and studying of poetry.

All our undergraduates engage in the critical study of poetry and in addition have the chance to take creative writing modules that specialise in poetry.

The School offers a wide range of opportunities to postgraduate study in both critical and creative practice too, including our MA in Creative Writing.

Our Creative Writing students have often been garlanded for their poetry:

  • PhD student Hannah Lowe's collection Chick (2013) was shortlisted for the Felix Denis Prize for Best First Collection
  • Anna Woodford's collection Birdhouse (2010) won the Crashaw Prize
  • since graduating Paul Batchelor has won the 2009 Times Stephen Spender Award for Translation and the 2009 Edwin Morgan International Poetry Prize