From BA English and the Creative Writing MA in Poetic Practice, to practice-based and creative writing PhDs, the Poetics Research Centre supports the study and making of innovative and international contemporary poetries across diverse media.
Royal Holloway students can follow their interests in poetry from BA level through to doctoral research, becoming part of a creative and intellectual network. Students and alumni have gone on to take up academic positions in other prestigious university departments, including at UEA, Queen Mary, Birkbeck, and be published by award-winning small presses alongside larger publishers such as Bloomsbury and Penguin.
Staff Members encourage and mentor postgraduate students in the curation of their own events, such as Simon Pomery’s influential series at Café Oto in 2017-18 and the performance and events series by The Crested Tit Collective in 2019-21.
The image above shows a concertina pamphlet from MA graduate Hannah Harding's final project, ‘we who collect’, with textual fragments and cutouts of finds along the Thames shores.
Poetic Practice as part of your English degree
A third-year Poetic Practice module allows students to consider a range of contemporary and experimental poetic writing, and be introduced to thinking about such writing practices in relation to contemporary theory and creative-critical contexts of the twentieth and twentieth-first centuries. By looking at the methods, processes and techniques used by experimental and innovative writers, students can gain confidence in creating their own poetic practice.
‘I chose the third-year Poetic Practice module with the firm belief that I was not a poet. Throughout the year my imagination was repeatedly blown wide open as I was introduced to such a dynamic and broad array of experimental practices. This module was the reason I chose to progress through the Poetic Practice pathway on the Royal Holloway Creative Writing MA, despite no prior plans for further study: I couldn’t get enough. I would recommend these courses to all curious minds, but especially to those who feel their creative instinct but haven’t quite found the outlet for it.’
Hannah Harding, 2022 graduate of the MA Creative Writing (Poetic Practice)
MA Creative Writing Poetic Practice pathway
The Poetic Practice pathway of the Royal Holloway MA Creative Writing foregrounds contemporary experimental practices in poetry, contemporary theory and new media. Its project-based approach makes space for experimentation alongside critical thinking.
In this pathway, students study innovative poetic practice in the UK and North America, and develop their own writing and making in this context. They explore recent debates in poetics as well as poetic production in other media, such as performance, installation, digital poetics, art writing, bookarts and sound. They also begin to learn about and engage with the networks of small press publishing in the UK and beyond, with opportunities in most years to exhibit works at the Small Publishers Fair in Conway Hall, London.
‘Knowing nothing about experimental poetics, I took a chance on the Poetic Practice Pathway (MA) and haven’t looked back since. My experience was like a toddler seeing paint for the first time. So many colors. So many canvases to paint on. The Poetic Practice course does an excellent job utilising all mediums of art and writing to guide students in finding their own artistic practice. My ideas surrounding poetry expanded during the course. I particularly enjoyed creating sound, film and performance art – along with reading theoretical works. While the course is based in Creative Writing, anyone that is open to challenging the way they see art, as poetry, is welcomed.’
Tanicia Pratt, 2020 graduate of the MA Creative Writing (Poetic Practice)
Practice-based and creative writing PhDs
Members of the Poetics Research Centre welcome approaches from postgraduate students who would like to engage in creative writing research, and practice-based PhDs with a critical element. Please see the research pages for Professor Redell Olsen, Professor Robert Hampson, Dr Will Montgomery and Dr Prue Bussey-Chamberlain for their particular interests and contact details.
‘I love how my Poetic Practice PhD has enabled me to develop my own poetry through artist’s books, handmade pamphlets and poetic objects, in critical conversation with the work of contemporary and even medieval poets, and in relation to theoretical approaches. I really value the community of poets and researchers here – my fellow PhD students and alumni, as well as opportunities through the Poetics Research Centre.’
Caroline Harris, current doctoral researcher
Image shows a page from the limited-edition bookwork Cut-out Bambi by Caroline Harris. The shapes of a doe and fawn have been cut out from their suburban setting, revealing text on the page beneath.