Birkbeck’s new Arts & Culture magazine – Call for Contributions


I’m an MA student founding a new arts & culture magazine for the Birkbeck students alongside the SU. I am putting together a team and want to hear from anyone interested in editing or designing the website/paper magazine. Additionally, if you write/create any of the things I’ve listed below, and feel that work deserves a platform, then please contact me with existing work or for new assignments. This magazine is being created specifically for Birkbeck writers/artists to be able to display their existing work – so don’t be shy. The categories (roughly drawn) are as follows, but if there is anything else you might be able to contribute do let me know:


-short stories

-essays (any kind: lyrical, critical, political, etc)

-reviews (films, books, current exhibitions, gigs, stuff going in London generally etc)

-journalistic interviews

-photography/visual art of any kind

-designing the mag


Look forward to hearing from you,

Luke Buffini

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Thinking Through Writing – ‘thinking and writing in the arts’

Thinking Through Writing

Jennifer Moriarty, MPhil Candidate in the Department of English and Humanities, reports on a recent workshop that brought together researchers to discuss the relationship between thinking and writing in the arts.


In the early days of my PhD, my supervisor told me that ‘writing is how we work out what we think about things’. I nodded — hopefully sagely — and wrote it in my notebook, not really grasping the significance of the statement. Then I went away and promptly struggled to write my first chapter. A constant stream of academic memes reminding me that I ‘should be writing’ seemed merely to underline that, unless writing was ceaseless, it was never enough. But, I began to think about how writing, if it truly was a means of understanding my own creative input, should be deployed alongside the reading of inputs produced by others. Did ‘writing’ mean writing or was the word used as shorthand for a more nebulous combination of reading/writing/thinking? Seeking greater insight into this balancing act, I attended several ‘academic writing’ workshops in which speakers largely addressed questions of how to unblock the mind that already knows what it thinks or how to use the predefined structure of the scientific PhD document to galvanize writing. While I did learn some practical tips about structuring sentences and paragraphs, my questions about the writing process as a way to generate ideas went unanswered. None of these sessions got at the heart of how to use writing to synthesize existing research and original ideas within the context of the arts-based thesis. Using the training-needs-analysis document as a catalyst to articulate my questions, I was delighted when Luisa Calè, the Assistant Dean for the School of Arts, identified that guidance on the use writing to generate thinking was lacking in the training provision and that deeper scrutiny of the writing process would be of interest to students across the School.

On 2 July, researchers came together in a day-long ‘Thinking Through Writing’ workshop that offered a mixture of advice from experienced writers and practical hands-on writing sessions. What we learned — spoiler alert— is that the process of writing is difficult and there is no one-size-fits-all approach. But feedback from attendees said that hearing about others’ methods and finding solidarity among peers facing the same struggles offered fresh perspectives and rejuvenating energy. The message reiterated throughout the day was that writing and thinking are inspired as much by reading as they are seemingly non-academic activities like exercising, baking, or listening to music.

Panel 1 — Thinking through writing: approaches to composition

An initial panel presented the reflections of three writers on their process of writing from different fields.

Mark Blacklock, drawing on his experience as a journalist, novelist, and academic writer, encouraged attendees to think of critical writing as a process of responding to something, for example, a primary source or a historical idea. Among the steps he outlined for generating ideas were:

  • The ‘first mark’—get over the blank page as quickly as possible by breaking ground with handwritten notes in notebooks or margins or books. Once digitised, these notes can be searched, often throwing up serendipitous connections.
  • Keywords— brainstorm keywords in response to the primary source then really zoom in on the words and concepts.
  • Sentences— use sentences to add meaning and order to your ideas. Mark mentioned Don DeLillo ‘s practice of writing only one sentence per page in order to leave space to unpack each one thoroughly.
  • Sections— compile granular-level sentences into sections and then rearrange these to see which content is redundant or to identify any gaps
  • Editing— allow some time to pass before editing your own work, but also consider editing others’ work as a means of gaining insight into alternative writing styles.
  • Publishing— commit to publication (journal articles or conference papers) to impose often helpful deadlines on your writing. Mark recommended blogs as a lower-stakes place to practise writing. Blog posts must be good enough to put out before the public, but they don’t need to be up to academic standard.

Sam Dolbear, speaking from his experience of writing his PhD, discussed several tactics that he employed to find ideas in his own writing. Sam suggested rearranging sentences either electronically or by printing out and cutting them apart to speak new connections. Importantly, Sam emphasized that the writing process is difficult and can involve as much failure as productivity. Introducing an idea that would be reiterated throughout the day, Sam noted that distraction often serves as a productive force, enabling the mind to process ideas. Activities away from the desk, such as walking, cycling, or going to the cinema can often trigger reflective modes of thinking, but no one approach would suit everyone.

Emily Baker took up this idea, drawing a parallel between the processes of writing and musical composition. While Mozart wrote by thinking through his entire work before drafting and made infrequent adjustments to his core ideas afterwards, Beethoven’s approach was to consider each note as it was influenced by those preceding it and to make endless improvements even after publication. Emily recommended a hybrid approach of planning and chance tailored to suit each individual writer’s temperament. She noted that some people react productively to self- or supervisor-imposed deadlines and benefit from outside accountability, but others are more likely to rebel and won’t find motivation in these pressures. Emily also recommended the Forest app as a tool to help resist the temptation to be distracted by social media or other websites while writing.

Music proved a rich metaphor and topic of discussion. Bach’s method of ‘counterpoint’—where one melody responds and interacts with another within the same piece— was suggested as a helpful way to think about dialogic forms of writing. Others noted that pieces of music listened to repeatedly while writing can become associated with arguments or chapters, providing a useful trigger for returning to an earlier train of thought. Max Richter’s Sleep (2015) and the website Noisili were mentioned as examples of neuroscience being used to inform compositions designed to aid concentration, productivity, and/or relaxation.


In the first of two writing sessions, the group participated in a ‘Pomodoro’. Named after the tomato timer, Pomodoro refers to a time-management technique that recommends using 25-minute intervals of concentrated effort to break tasks into smaller chunks, followed by 5-minutes of break. When sitting down to write, many people find themselves distracted by their surroundings or daunted by what they want to achieve. Others sit for hours without taking a rest.  By setting a writing goal for the time period and knowing that there is a built-in time afterwards in which distraction is permitted, writers applying the Pomodoro technique say that it helps to increase focus and productivity.

Panel 2 — Writing Feelings

In the afternoon, the group discussed the feelings that writing engenders. Many people expressed a combination of frustration/anxiety intermixed with feeling of elation/accomplishment. Others expressed guilt at not writing but also about writing, that arts research wasn’t considered to be ‘real’ work.

Julia Bell encouraged attendees to use the productive energy of anxiety to foster creative bursts of active writing. She attributed this anxiety to the paradox of writing within an environment structured by beats of the clock— scheduled events in our lives, like deadlines— while at the same time reflecting on timeless or historic matters.  Using Kurt Vonnegut’s ‘Shapes of Writing’ metaphor, Julia drew a comparison between writers and characters in a novel, both subject to time-bound existence but also affected by thoughts and motivations that sit outside of time. She also suggested that students’ anxiety can spring from concerns that their readers are more knowledgeable than they are, but she encouraged them to take confidence from their work at the coalface and their familiarity with the latest research in their field. While it’s important to be prepared to face an external examiner, that person’s expertise may have been built 10 or 20 years earlier.

Julia pointed out that academic work is embracing elements of creative writing, including a willingness to incorporate the writer’s own experience as evidence and writing in the first person.

‘Shut Up and Write’

In the afternoon, the group completed a one-hour ‘Shut Up and Write’ session. Despite its aggressive name, the longer silent writing session was greeted with enthusiasm by participants. Many enjoyed the feeling of solidarity of writing within a group, knowing that others were also working toward similar goals, and the feeling of accountability group writing fostered, given the social pressure to prevent them from being distracted. Several participants reported being more productive in the day’s short writing sessions than they had in days or weeks!

If you’re interested in group writing, Birkbeck offers a number of opportunities. The Birkbeck Graduate Research School often runs shut up and write days, and Sophie Jones runs a twice-weekly writing group during term times, which is open to researchers at all stages. Please contact Sophie for more details or to be added to the group’s email list.

The Uses of Procrastination

In the final session of the day, historian Emma Lundin, from the podcast Tomorrow Never Knows (with Charlotte Lydia Riley), took up the idea that procrastination can be productive. She reiterated the importance of knowing yourself and, whenever possible, identifying times of day and environments that make thesis writing easier. Often, however, commitments to family or work can impose restrictions on when and where writing takes place. Emma cited Toni Morrison and Nick Laird who discuss how to fit writing around other commitments and also encouraged writers to see time away from writing as ‘thinking time’. Activities like baking cookies or watching movies may feel like procrastination but can offer the mind a chance to consider any problems obliquely or subconsciously. Emma also recommended the use of other writing outlets— blogs, a podcast— to create lower-pressure opportunities to practise writing and to rejuvenate the writer. Twitter, ordinarily considered a distraction from writing, can be used productively as a place for collecting and recording ideas, as well as a forum for conversation with the wider community.

Scrivener offers a digital solution for writers who tend to want to edit what they have already written instead of continuing to write, because earlier work can be ‘hidden’, and writers are encouraged instead to compose chunks of text in any order for later compilation or rearrangement.

So, it seems that maybe we shouldn’t always be writing. To give space for thinking, research can and ought to encompass opportunities at and away from the desk for making connections between ideas and readings. The process of writing can encompass ‘positive procrastination’ as an opportunity for creative and problem-solving parts of our mind to process information. Writing in shorter but more focused sessions, perhaps even with other people, may also increase productivity and help to maintain motivation throughout the thesis.


De Lillo, Don, ‘The Art of Fiction’, Paris Review, 128 (Fall 1993),

Dunleavy, Patrick, Authoring a PhD: How to Plan, Draft, Write and Finish a Doctoral Thesis or Dissertation (Palgrave Macmillan, 2003)

Explorations of Style, A Blog about Academic Writing:

Hertzmann, Eric, ‘Mozart’s Creative Process’, The Musical Quarterly, 43:2 (1957), 187-200

Kindermann, William, Beethoven’s Compositional Process (University of Nebraska Press, 1991)

Laird, Nick, ‘My lists say things like 1. buy milk. 2. call Dad. 3. finish novel’, Guardian, 27 June 2017

Morrison, Toni, ‘The Art of Fiction’, Paris Review, 128 (Fall 1993)   

Sword, Helen, Air & Light & Time & Space: How Successful Academics Write (Harvard University Press, 2017)

Wolff, Christoph, ‘Composed, Just not yet Written: on Mozart’s Creative Process’, Bulletin of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, 52: 4 (1999), 28-31

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Coming Soon to the Peltz Gallery: Replaced Lives 8 January – 16 February 2018

Replaced Lives will come to Peltz Gallery at the beginning of 2018. Commissioned by Birkbeck Research in Aesthetics of Kinship and Community (BRAKC), four artist printmakers sharing the same studio created works in the exhibition as a unique visual response to the ‘Replacement’ conference held at Birkbeck in December 2016. All four artists explored one aspect in the drama of replacement—that of replaced lives.

The launch reception of the exhibition will take place on 11th January 2018, 6:00-8:00pm. Please reserve your free place here.

If you would like to know more about the creative process behind the exhibition, come and join us in the Gallery in the Artists Q&A session on 23rd January 2018, 6:30-8:30pm. Find out more and reserve your free place here.

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Opportunities for review writers for ‘Women: A Cultural Review’

Women: A Cultural Review

Dr Trudi Tate, the reviews editor of  is interested in hearing from PhD students who may be able to write occasional reviews for the journal.

Please contact her directly at

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New issue of 19: The Arts and Feeling

19: Interdisciplinary Studies in the Long Nineteenth Century, 23 (2016)

The Arts and Feeling – Issue 23

This issue of 19 on ‘The Arts and Feeling’ explores the ways in which Victorian writers, artists, composers, sculptors, and architects imagined, conceptualized, and represented emotion. Its diverse articles respond to and extend recent interdisciplinary work on emotions, sentimentality, and the senses, locating such work within wider debates about the physiology and psychology of aesthetic perception, the historicization of aesthetic response, and the role of media specificity in the production of affect. What were the expressive codes and conventions that resonated for the Victorians? And what of the terminology used today in academic discourse to locate, recognize, and describe feeling? ‘The Arts and Feeling’ interrogates such questions in relation to canonical artworks, like John Everett Millais’s Autumn Leaves or William Holman Hunt’s The Awakening Conscience. It investigates the role of feeling in religious visual and material culture, and in John Ruskin’s vision of architecture as an emotional art; it looks at Victorian exhibition culture and the ‘hurried’ nature of aesthetic response, and at women viewing art and the gendering of perception. Vernon Lee offers us ‘historic emotion’, while George Eliot’s The Mill of the Floss makes us think about feeling hungry. Richard Dadd’s Passions series stages interaction between madness, visual culture, and theatricality; and the Aesthetic Movement provides opportunity to reflect on the relationship between art and music and how, together, they both produce and repress emotion.

Victoria Mills

Introduction: Curating Feeling

Kate Flint

Feeling, Affect, Melancholy, Loss: Millais’s Autumn Leaves and the Siege of Sebastopol

Kate Nichols

Diana or Christ?: Seeing and Feeling Doubt in Late-Victorian Visual Culture

Sophie Ratcliffe

The Trouble with Feeling Now: Thomas Woolner, Robert Browning, and the Touching Case of Constance and Arthur

Lesa Scholl

‘For the cake was so pretty’: Tactile Interventions in Taste; or, Having One’s Cake and Eating It in The Mill on the Floss

Tim Barringer

Art, Music, and the Emotions in the Aesthetic Movement

Karen Lisa Burns

The Awakening Conscience: Christian Sentiment, Salvation, and Spectatorship in Mid-Victorian Britain

Karen Stock

Richard Dadd’s Passions and the Treatment of Insanity

Katherine Wheeler

‘They cannot choose but look’: Ruskin and Emotional Architecture

Sarah Barnette

Vernon Lee’s Composition of ‘The Virgin of the Seven Daggers’: Historic Emotion and the Aesthetic Life

Meaghan Clarke

On Tempera and Temperament: Women, Art, and Feeling at the Fin de Siècle

To download the articles, see: 19 – The Arts and Feeling

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ArtLess: The imagery of conflict and public engagement: Jane Quinn (PhD History of Art)

The imagery of conflict and public engagement: the ArtLess bursary

The art of conflict which has been produced since the First Gulf War in 1991, 25 years ago, has changed exponentially in its approach, the techiques used, and the varied texture of the experience which the artists are dealing with. The nature of the conflict is different, with asymmetrical warfare replacing the major world wars; the techniques used are different – traditional oils and sketches jostle with CGI, photographs, video, installations; and forensic layering brings together multiple media and delivery mechanisms as a way of representing and monitoring conflict.

However many from the older adult audience, when asked about war art, are likely to think of the output of established artists such as John Singer Sargent or, more recently Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red at the Tower of London, or possibly PhotoOp by kennardphillipps. And the younger audience, with 16-24 year olds now spending an average of 27 hours a week online 1 will be forming their view of war through games and videos on the internet, as well as instant news, building a very different view of the nature of conflict.

It is in this space that my recent public engagement exercise, funded by an ArtLess bursary, positioned itself. My background lies in running national, pan-platform campaigns across television, online and events for the BBC on topics such as adult literacy and creative arts for young people, with the aim of encouraging large numbers of the viewing audience to take action. From the start, these campaigns worked to a small number of sharp aims which drove and determined all the public engagement which took place. Essentials in running these campaigns were identifying the target audience, researching their demography, deciding which media suited their needs and ability, and being clear on what we wanted them to do e.g to read more with their children, or to take part in a fashion or film workshop.

The outreach process I used for the ArtLess bursary work drew on this body of knowledge. I wanted to use some of these public engagement techniques to test out how young people react when faced with images of war developed by artists and photographers who have produced them deliberately to make us contemplate a war, or warfare. Once invited to participate, it was important for them to feel informed enough, and confident enough to give their views on the images in front of them. Would they understand the visual references? Would they need much more information to be able to do so? If so, what kind of information, and how should it be delivered? How do these images resonate with young people used to dealing with virtual violence on both the big screen and their PDAs?

In June 2016, I ran a series of interviews with a group of sixth form students from Corelli College in South London. This is a large Cooperative Academy with a specialism in the Arts and a diverse student body. The students were drawn from English and Photography courses, so they were famiiar with visual conventions and creative constructs, but hadn’t specialised in any way in images of war. The interviews were filmed, and subsequently edited, and have been posted on the imagesofconflict site which is part of my research project.

The students’ initial responses to the images they were shown – Simon Norfolk Bleed, John Keane Kneel, Kennard Phillips STOP: Know Your Enemy (image below): Langlands and Bell The House of Osama bin Laden (on a mobile), Don McCullin Shell Shocked Soldier and John Keane’s Scenes on the Road to Hell 1 were filmed using a single camera. Then each student was given more detailed facts about the intentions of the artist, and their secondary responses were also captured.


Kennard Phillips STOP: Know Your Enemy


Kneel c. John Keane

This has provided a rich seam of information about the effects of images of war on this age group. Although a small sample of five students, they demonstrated responses ranging from sensitive and thoughtful analyses of what the image showed, to approaches which were ‘safer’ and which fitted the image into their existing world view. Images which might have been assumed to be heavy with meaning, such as the jumpsuit in John Keane’s Kneel, were not immediately obvious to the participating student until explained. And then their full impact was felt. In all but one case, the additional, narrated information extended the reach of the artwork and added to its effect on the viewers.

This kind of small group research has proved to be helpful in starting to uncover audience responses to images of conflict. To be doubly powerful in understanding the social context of war art these interviews could be run alongside the responses of the over 50s for example, a geographically diverse group or a group of ex-service men and women.

This exercise will feed back into my research and enrich my analysis of the life cycle of images of conflict. The films of the interview also involve a second type of public engagement – with an invited audience, mainly academics, on the website. I am hoping this will become a space where interested users will give their comments and views on the growing body of video and text content available there.

1 OFCOM’s Media Use and Attitudes Report 2015

Jane Quinn

PhD student in the History of Art department, Birkbeck, University of London.


Biographical information

Jane Quinn is in Year 3 of a part-time, practice-based PhD in the History of Art department at Birkbeck. The components of her work are a written dissertation and an accompanying website,

Prior to beginning her PhD, Jane had variously been a book editor with Macmillan and an executive producer with the BBC, overseeing many factual and educational programmes and latterly planning and running national, pan-platform public engagement campaigns. In 2008-09 she lived and worked in Guyana, South America as an advisor to the government on the establishment of a multi-media centre to develop digital learning materials for the country’s schools. She is the author of a book on equal opportunities, and a contributor to the Huffington Post.






































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Globe Education Research Internships: Deadline 17 October 2016

Globe Education Research Internships

Birkbeck University of London and Globe Education at Shakespeare’s Globe are happy to invite postgraduate students working in a historical or literary field in the early modern period at Birkbeck to apply for a research internship at Globe Education in autumn/winter 2016-17 (running November-January inclusive).

Students taking early MAs (MA Medieval, MA Renaissance) and MPhil and Phd students working in the early periods are invited to apply for up to two research internship placements to participate in dramaturgical research for the upcoming Sam Wanamaker Playhouse and Globe Theatre seasons. The placements commence the week of Monday 7 November 2015 and end the week of Monday 23 January 2017. The successful candidates will be working on a postgraduate degree and have some prior research experience and be familiar with early modern texts.

Research interns aid all departments at Shakespeare’s Globe by providing research documents and short answers to any queries that arise. The research intern’s responsibilities include:

  • Dramaturgy and background research on aspects of early modern culture
  • Conducting and transcribing the end of season interviews
  • Answering general queries, Facebook and Twitter discussion questions
  • Supporting the Librarian and Archivist
  • Assisting at Globe Education events

The placements are of a period of up to THREE months and not less than TWO months. You will need to commit to 8 hours a week to be spent on site at the Globe, during the day Monday to Friday, with hours to be decided in consultation with Globe Education. You will be based in the Globe Library and Archive and report to Dr Will Tosh, research fellow and lecturer.

As indicated, students at MA, MPhil and PhD level may apply. In applying, please supply:

  1. 250 words outlining (a) your special area of research and how it relates to early modern theatre culture; (b) how the placement will benefit your academic study; (c) how it will develop your career skills.
  2. Full CV
  3. Name of 1 academic referee

Candidates will be interviewed and if suitable candidates are found the placement(s) will begin on 2 November.

The placements are unpaid and we cannot pay travel expenses. Successful applicants will receive a Globe staff pass that entitles them to free access to Globe Education events. Holders of Globe staff passes also receive discounts in all Swan catering outlets and the Globe gift-shop.

Submit your application with the information and documents requested above to marked GLOBE PLACEMENTS in the strapline. Please submit by 12.00pm Monday 17 October. Please not that you might be asked to work on these further. Final applications should be sent to Dr Will Tosh at Shakespeare’s Globe ( by Monday 24 October.

Interviews will take place at the Globe in the week commencing Monday 31 October (date and time to be confirmed).

To find out more and discuss applying contact Sue Wiseman on

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Art in the Archives: Insights into the 18th century Art Collections at Longford Castle, Wiltshire with Amelia Smith

Current Birkbeck History of Art PhD student Amelia Smith will be presenting Art in the Archives: Some Insights into the 18th century Art Collections at Longford Castle, Wiltshire

Amelia Smith is currently writing a PhD on ‘Patronage, Acquisition and Display: Contextualising the Art Collections of Longford Castle during the Long Eighteenth Century’, a collaborative project between the National Gallery and Birkbeck, University of London. She is co-supervised by Dr Kate Retford and Dr Susanna Avery-Quash (the National Gallery). Kate is the History of Art Head of Department and you can read her blog here.

There will be an illustrated talk on the art of Longford Castle on Thursday 12 May 2016, at 7pm, at Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre. While the talk is FREE it is essential to book a ticket in advance, from (or tel 01249 705500), to avoid disappointment. Tickets will be allocated on a first come, first served, basis.

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Special tenth anniversary issue of 19: Interdisciplinary Studies in the Long Nineteenth Century

19: Interdisciplinary Studies in the Long Nineteenth Century, 21 (2015)

19 marks and celebrates its tenth anniversary with a special issue guest edited by Luisa Calè and Ana Parejo Vadillo on the manifold possibilities of the nineteenth-century digital archive.

Happy Birthday 19!


The Nineteenth-Century Digital Archive

What old and new crafts shape the nineteenth-century digital archive? How is the nineteenth-century paper archive remediated and remixed in the twenty-first century digital archive? What kinds of authors, users, and citizens do nineteenth-century digital projects call for? And what shape do they take? These are some of the questions addressed in this tenth anniversary issue of 19: Interdisciplinary Studies in the Long Nineteenth Century dedicated to the Nineteenth-Century Digital Archive.

In ‘The Craft of the Archive’, Morris Eaves and the Blake Archive team address the digital palimpsesting of William Blake’s Four Zoas, whereas Jason Camlot discusses digital forensics, audio fossils, and analyses early voice archives.

The Our Mutual Friend Reading Project, Birkbeck’s durational interval reading experiment, is discussed by Ben Winyard, Emma Curry, and some of the project’s digital personae: Beatrice Bazell, Holly Furneaux, Pete Orford, and Melissa Symanczyk.

The ‘Experiments’ section features Nadia Valman’s Zangwill’s Spitalfields app, Bob Nicholson’s Victorian Meme Machine, and Rob Gallagher and Ana Parejo Vadillo’s remix of Michael Field’s Sight and Song.

Finally, in ‘Visions’ we explore the Internet Archive with Brewster Kahle; Gale Digital Collections with Ray Abruzzi; the Central Online Victorian Educator with Dino Franco Felluga; Citizen Science with Sally Shuttleworth, Gowan Dawson, and team; Lost Visions with Julia Thomas; nineteenth-century periodicals with Laurel Brake and James Mussell; and conclude with Hilary Fraser and Jerome McGann reflecting on digital nineteenth-century worlds past, present, and future.

To download the articles, visit:

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Birkbeck Contemporary Poetics Research Centre – Welcome

The Birkbeck Contemporary Poetics Research Centre is a forum for student writers and poets interested in innovative kinds of poetry and poetics across all periods – as well as those interested in the field wanting to discuss and hear more – we run seminars and host readings by internationally known poets throughout the year, sponsor Veer Books, and have a long history of experiment in the form of online journals, festivals and other ventures. We’d like to encourage you to come along to events, and would be happy to put you on our email circulation if you’d like to be notified too. Have a look at our website on for a sense of what we do – we are currently migrating and refreshing the site. In the meantime we have a public page here on facebook which will carry all news including a reading by renowned US poet Robert Grenier on the 20 October: just search for CPRC and join.

More specifically – and imminently – we are also involved in an outstanding annual collaboration with the Guildhall School of Music: VOICEWORKS. A small group of selected Birkbeck poets work closely with composing students and classically trained singers to write songs, which will be performed at the prestigious Wigmore Hall in May. This collaboration has been the beginning of ongoing projects, publications and commissions for many of those involved, and you can see how it works on our website: Voiceworks is now entering its tenth anniversary year.

To take part you will need to have Tuesday evenings 6-8 available for a number of weeks in the autumn term from  3 November when the early input is most structured (including workshops and seminars with staff), plus some timetabled meetings to share work in the Spring, but can increasingly pace your work to suit the needs of your project and your time  – the final song is performed in May. You need to be committed to exploring what collaborative work might bring.

If you’d like to be considered for this, we would need a portfolio of poems or prose poems/writings with a brief note about your interest – up to ten poems, no fewer than four – to be emailed to me on

The final deadline for submissions is 22 October – but we’d like them as soon as possible… we’ll let you know quickly if you have a place for this year. The first meeting takes place at Guildhall School of Music and Drama, Silk St, near the Barbican, on Tuesday 3 November.

Voiceworks is an exceptional programme, and the opportunities leading from it have proved exciting for those collaborating. It is selective, so the number following the programme will be small, and comprised of doctoral students and a small group of MAs, no more than 8 poets in total. MAs can take the programme for credit as an option, or for pleasure.

Hope to see you at Poetics Centre events over the year – we will keep you posted.


Carol Watts

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