A Creative Writing PhD – The Third Year (Part 1)

Poetry books by Emily Berry and Ocean Vuong

It feels like this year has been busier than ever, probably because in-person things have started happening again, and it’s so nice to see real people!

The academic year started off with a bang, as my first ever peer-reviewed journal article was published online! The title is ‘Shaping the Lyric: Literal and Metaphorical Blank Space in the Poetry of Emily Berry and Ocean Vuong’ and it’s freely available online if you’d like to read it. It began life as a 2000 word essay for my MA, a few years ago, and I’ve spent many, many, many hours re-working and extending it for publication. I initially tried a different journal, and made it all the way through the peer review process, only to be turned down at the last minute. I’m so glad I decided to try again!

Roath Writers writing group meeting in-person

It was wonderful to meet my fellow writing group members in-person again after more than two years

On the very same day I also began teaching again (teaching creative writing to undergraduates) but this time it was in a real, physical classroom. Teaching online was fun, but always a challenge to keep the students engaged. Teaching in-person is much, much easier.

Last year I joined the SWWDTP student-led Creativity in Research Cluster – a group of students from multiple disciplines (art, music, history, English Lit) with an interest in exploring various forms of creativity in academic research. The group has been really inspiring and supportive. This year we have been working on a collaborative journal article, and it will soon be published in The Journal for Artistic Research (this one was reviewed by no less than five peer-reviewers). I’d never even considered doing something like this, but it has been a really fascinating process, working with others to see how our (very different) research projects connect in all sorts of unexpected ways. It’s also helped me to see my own research from a fresh perspective, and inspired what will eventually become part of the introduction to my thesis.

I’ve had some really exciting poetry highlights this year so far, with a competition win for a poem I originally wrote sixteen years ago, as part of my BA at Aberystwyth! It has undergone quite a bit of editing since then, and had previously been rejected by several different journals and competitions, so it just shows that perseverance pays off eventually! I was humbled and honoured to hear that the competition organisers have also nominated it for the Forward Prize.

I was also delighted to be voted runner up in the Bangor Poetry Competition, and to be highly commended by Roger McGough in the Liverpool Poetry Prize, plus making it to a few short- and long-lists.

The pamphlet produced as part of the online 'Art&Words' project

The pamphlet produced as part of the online Art&Words project with National Museum Cardiff

And finally – I’ve been working in partnership with National Museum Cardiff to put my PhD theories into practice. 2021 was the year of the ‘digital version’, with a series of online workshops and an interactive Instagram project, which Instagrammers can still take part in.

I’m now working on the ‘in-person version’, currently recruiting a group of people to participate in a set of creative writing workshops at the museum. Watch this space for more details about how you can read their poems and take part yourself, when the interactive display goes live in the museum towards the end of the summer…

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