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Projects

The Poetics Research Centre is involved in a range of national and international creative and academic projects, led by both staff and students.

Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for news and upcoming events. 

To find out more, email poeticsresearchcentre@rhul.ac.uk and check out the centre’s pages including our new Poetic Practice Now showcase and archive. 

The image above is taken from ‘Proposal for an Interspecies Opera’ by Redell Olsen, created as part of her DARE Art Prize project. A colour-saturated treatment of Claude Lorrain’s painting of Acis and Galatea where the couple before their draped bower have been replaced with a circle of Polyphemus moths.

Staff and students from the Poetics Research Centre showcase work in the Small Publishers Fair at Conway Hall, London, a reading event and exhibition that takes place each autumn.

At the 2022 fair, students’ limited-edition bookarts and wider publications were collected by the National Poetry Library, the Bodleian, Bournemouth University Library and the Much Ado Books bookart room. The Poetics Research Centre also held a series of readings at the fair by current Royal Holloway students and graduates. You can watch a recording of the readings here.

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Pictured at the fair are Cat Chong (Poetic Practice graduate), Caroline Harris (PhD student), Briony Hughes (PhD student), and Joe Howse (Poetic Practice graduate).

A number of students and former students have also set up and run their own small presses. These include Guillemot Press, Moot Press, Osmosis Press, Small Birds Press.

Begun in January 2021 and ongoing, Walking in Air is a collaborative interdisciplinary project between Dr Will Montgomery and artist, composer and academic Emmanuelle Waeckerlé. Encompassing walking, thinking, music, performance and discussion, it considers ‘walking in air’ as a model for speculative thinking, creative activity and reconsidering our place within the natural environment. The core walking events give rise to performance, workshop discussion, texts and audio recordings. The project is supported by the UCA research fund, HARI (Royal Holloway), the Centre des Livres d’Artistes (St Yrieux, France) and Folkestone Fringe. An article about the project has been published in Performance Research.  

Image by Will Montgomery from ‘Walking in Air de Chez Sois’, Battersea Park, January 2021. Close-up of a bare tree with looping branches in front of a bandstand and pale sky. 

​​Professor Redell Olsen was awarded the 2020-21 DARE Art Prize by the University of Leeds and Opera North, in association with the National Science and Media Museum and The Tetley, Leeds. Her project included the creation of a new song cycle and film which reimagined Handel’s Acis and Galatea to present extracts of an inter-species opera in response to the current climate crisis and environmental degradation. The audio extracts were performed by members of the Chorus of Opera North and bass-baritone Matthew Stiff. Redell also produced Weather, Whether Radar: Plume of the Volants, a book which engages with the work of BioDAR researchers at the University of Leeds and scientific data measuring different species of insects in our skies, exploring alternative ways to represent climate change and the risk of species extinction. 

The Contemporary Innovative Poetry Research Seminar was set up in 2010 and is run by Robert Hampson with Amy Evans Bauer at the University of London Institute for English Studies. Meeting on the last Wednesday of each month in term time, the series – like TALKS TALKS TALKS, which it superseded – features a paper and discussion. It is open to graduate students, practitioners and interested members of the public. The focus is on contemporary innovative poetry and its antecedents.

During 1998-99, Bob Perelman was Visiting Professor at King’s College, London, and set up a TALKS series of monthly seminars there like the one he had run in San Francisco. When he returned to the US, in 1999, he asked Robert Hampson to take over the series. TALKS TALKS TALKS ran for a number of years at King’s College, and then the venue changed to Birkbeck in 2008. Like Perelman’s original TALKS, it aimed to bring together practitioners in poetry, visual arts, music and architecture. Hilda Bronstein has given an account of the early years of the London TALKS TALKS TALKS series in How2

The Contemporary Innovative Poetry Research Seminar is currently a virtual seminar on Zoom, and speakers and participants are from mainland Europe, North and South America and the UK. For further details of the programme and to attend the seminar, email r.hampson@rhul.ac.uk. Details of the programme are also available on the Institute for English Studies website.

For some years Professor Redell Olsen has been exploring alternative models to workshop-led creative writing practices and has recently run two highly successful projects to encourage students to make their own writing and bookworks in response to archival collections. She received an Arts Council Museums and Universities Partnership Initiative (MUPI) grant to undertake this work in 2017 with the MA in Poetic Practice students.

Members of the Poetics Research Centre curated a highly influential series of events at the Centre for Creative Collaboration, under the title of POLYply. These events foregrounded cross-genre writing, which includes poetry readings, performances, film screenings and installations. POLYply events were each organised around particular themes, presenting performances, readings, film screenings and installations by participants including poets, artists, musicians and architects. The aim was to promote dialogue and discussion among creative practitioners writing in an expanded field by providing a space for the dissemination of new work within poetic practice.

Image shows flyer for POLYply 15: Colour (January 2012), with contributors including Robert Hampson, Nisha Ramayya, Mark Leahy, MA Poetic Practice. 

After the loss of the Centre for Creative Collaboration, the POLY events and series have continued in other pop-up venues as POLYprojects. 

Image shows flyer for POLYproject 7: Text.Scores, with Angharad Davies, Redell Olsen, Rhodri Davies, Will Montgomery. 

Nature and Other Forms of That Matter, a collaboration with colleagues from other departments in Languages, Literatures and Cultures and Media Arts at Royal Holloway, was funded by the Humanities and Arts Research Institute (HARI) in 2016-7. It comprised poetry readings, film, sound and critical interventions on the theme of ecology.

Image shows flyer for a reading and film with Carol Watts, David Herd, Allen Fisher. The text is laid over a still from ‘Drawing Round the Black Pond’ by Allen Fisher, depicting large sheets of drawn-on paper around a pond.  

Members of the Poetics Research Centre have worked closely with colleagues from the Centre for Victorian Studies on the celebration of women’s suffrage in 2018. The film produced for this project by Professor Redell Olsen, Now Circa (1918), was shortlisted for the AHRC Research Film of the Year. The project was initiated and part funded through the Vote 100 celebrations at Royal Holloway and was one of the contributions to a day symposium organised by Ruth Livesey and Redell Olsen which featured papers, talks, readings, exchanges, banner-making and a procession at Bedford Square, Royal Holloway. Support funding was also given from the Judith E. Wilson Fund, University of Cambridge.

Image shows a flyer for Now Circa (1918), a film by Redell Olsen. The background is a still from the film with a woman holding a banner that reads ‘Same Shit, Different Century’. The flyer text credits the film as an Electric Crinolines production, with Catherine Lord, Saskia West, Caitlin Doherty, Sophie Gilmartin. 

Dr Nisha Ramayya (a former PhD student and Associate Member of the centre, now at Queen Mary) and Robert Hampson have contributed to the Race & Poetry & Poetics in the UK research group, www.rapapuk.com.

Robert Hampson currently edits the PRAG-UK blog, which is a major reference point for staff and students engaged in practice-based research.

Alembic was set up by Peter Barry, Ken Edwards and Robert Hampson in 1973. The first two issues consisted of loose pages, printed in different colours and on different sizes of paper, in a transparent plastic container. In addition to poems by Barry, Edwards, Hampson and Jim Stewart, the first issue included graphic work by John Simpson, Robert Snell and Sibani Raychaudhuri. Subsequent issues were more orthodox in design, but included volumes dedicated to contemporary poetry with roots in surrealism, open field poetry and the poetry of place, and prose. Edwards’s New York meeting with James Sherry was an important turning point in the magazine’s history. This coincided with Hampson’s independent connection with the early days of LANGUAGE poetry through Alan Davies and Rosmarie Waldrop. Charles Bernstein was a subscriber to the magazine. Through David Miller links were made to Cid Corman and Robert Lax – and to poets in Australia (Couani, Mizzi) and New Zealand (Loney). Alembic has received attention in two books by Wolfgang Görtschacher – Little Magazine Profiles: The Little Magazines in Great Britain, 1939-1993 (University of Salzburg, 1993) and Contemporary Views on the Little Magazine Scene (Poetry Salzburg, 2000) – and, more recently, in an interview (with Ken Edwards and Robert Hampson) by Sophie Seita in the magazine mimeo mimeo (2014). This has now been republished as “The transatlantic axis of ‘Alembic’” in Jacket2.

Image shows covers from the first eight issues of Alembic. 

The Crested Tit Collective (CTC) was a community of 12 poets and visual artists emerging from the Royal Holloway Poetic Practice MA. The collective was interested in collaborative publication, feminist ecologies, mess-making, mark-making, and innovative poetries. The CTC was launched in 2018 by E.P Jenkins, Cat Chong, Briony Hughes, Laura Hellon, Sophie Shepherd, and Martina Krajnakova. In early 2020, Ariana Benson, Tanicia Pratt, Chloe Proctor, and Tese Uhomoibhi joined the collective as the next Poetic Practice MA cohort. Between 2018 and 2021, the CTC hosted a series of readings in a number of spaces including The Poetry Café, Runnymede Literary Festival, Winchester Festival, Small Publishers Fair, Big Trouble (Gravesend), Rustique Literary Cafe (London), and Royal Holloway University of London. During the 2020 pandemic, the CTC explored the possibilities of digital performance, including a community reading of Juliana Spahr’s ‘Unnamed Dragonfly Species’ for Earth Day. The CTC published a number of texts including Harpies: CTC Anthology, the Crested Tit Zine series, and Rewilding: An Ecopoetic Anthology. After its publication, Rewilding was listed in the top 10 bestselling poetry anthologies on Amazon. 

Image shows the front and back covers of Rewilding: An Ecopoetic Anthology held open in an outdoor setting with grass, trees, sky. 

Poetics Research Centre Associate Member Caroline Harris is co-organiser of the AWW-STRUCK events series and publication, which aim to advance and expand the field of Cute Studies in the Arts and Humanities and establish the collaborating institutions (Royal Holloway and University of Birmingham) as a hub for this growing area. A virtual day seminar on 21 May 2021 presented three panels and a film screening, with papers from international professors, early career researchers and postgraduate students based in the UK, Japan, Nigeria and Sweden. A linked exhibition was curated by Royal Holloway MA Poetic Practice graduate Astra Papachristodoulou. The seminar was hosted for Royal Holloway by the Poetics Research Centre and co-organised by Dr Isabel Galleymore, with introductions by Professor Redell Olsen and Dr Megan Cavell, and funding from the Humanities and Arts Research Institute and University of Birmingham. A recording, exhibition, publication links and details of forthcoming events, including a reading group series, can be found on the AWW-STRUCK website

The Royal Holloway Poetics Research Centre has partnered with Osmosis Press to produce an anthology celebrating the twentieth anniversary of Poetic Practice. Graduates from the MA pathway and PhD programme were invited to submit textual, visual, sound, video, and performance work to the anthology, which will take form as both a codex and digital space. The anthology aims to showcase the range of hybrid poetries emerging from graduates spanning the 20-year duration of Poetic Practice.

Osmosis Press is co-edited by Briony Hughes. Briony completed the Poetic Practice MA pathway before pursuing a practice-based PhD under the supervision of Redell Olsen.

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