My Literary Highlights of 2023 – Publication, Art & The PhD!

poetry book - Octopus MindThis year has been an incredible milestone, with the publication of my debut collection Octopus Mind in July. It felt like everything was leading up to that moment, and the launch was a wonderful celebration of all that hard work, cheered on by the people who have encouraged and supported me over the past 39 years.   

To top it all off, I was amazed to find that my book was included in The Guardian’s Best Poetry Books of 2023 list, chosen by Rishi Dastidar. It was a shock to see Octopus Mind mentioned in the same space as poetry greats Jorie Graham, Daljit Nagra, Mary Jean Chan, Sharon Olds and Liz Berry! The thrill of that moment will keep me going for many months.

One of the collages (or poetry-objects) created as part of my PhD

One of the collages (or poetry-objects) created as part of my PhD

Although 2023 has been a real struggle, in terms of my physical health, it has also been a year of inspiration, creativity and visual art. Inspired by my PhD research (examining how poetry can help us to engage with art in museums) and my involvement with the Explore Collective, I have spent time experimenting with various materials and techniques, particularly collage and gelliprinting.

This led to my first published piece of visual art (a poem collage, or collage poem) in Ink Sweat and Tears. The text version of this collage, ‘eye / reflections’, can also be read in my book, Octopus Mind.

Two of my interactive collages (or poetry-objects) were displayed recently at Cardiff’s West Wall Gallery. They form part of my thesis, responding to, and incorporating, some of the creative texts contributed by museum visitors to the interactive poetry display that I organised as part of my research last year at National Museum Cardiff. I will share more about this work over the coming months.What are you looking for? An interactive exhibition.

Another exciting development this year has been the seminar series ‘Creative Crit’ that I co-organised with fellow PhD student Ethan Evans, encouraging PhD and MA students in the School of English, Communication and Philosophy at Cardiff University to explore creative approaches to academic writing and research. I particularly enjoyed delivering a workshop on Poetic Inquiry, and hope to run similar workshops in future.

I was also delighted to receive a certificate confirming that I am now a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (FHEA), earlier this year. This is a qualification for teaching at university level, and represents a lot of hard work!FHEA certificate

And, finally, after four momentous years and a last trip to Gregynog Hall, I have submitted the PhD thesis! I still have the viva exam to come, before it is complete, and I will also continue to teach in the university for a while, but I am feeling immensely grateful that I have had this opportunity to spend time focusing on a subject I love. I didn’t want the PhD adventure to come to an end, but it can’t go on forever, and I am now looking forward to whatever the future might bring.

Reading poetry at Gregynog

Reading Poetry at Gregynog Hall

Please do get in touch if you’d like to invite me to perform as part of a poetry festival or literary event –

My PhD was funded by the South West and Wales Doctoral Partnership (SWWDTP).

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