After studying English at the University of Bangor, and then completing a literature PhD at Birkbeck College, University of London, I eventually moved to the University of Liverpool, where I have taught since 2002. My critical writing has largely been on twentieth-century women's poetry but I am always keen to think about ways poetry might have conversations across disciplines. Collaborations with artists have been central to my work over the last decade, and I have recently completed a book about the literary narratives which inform the pictures of the artist Paula Rego, which is published by Thames & Hudson this autumn. An exhibition, 'The Errant Muse', with the artist Charlotte Hodes, will open at Liverpool's Victoria Gallery & Museum on the 16th November 2019. Other smaller projects include essays on the uses of repetition in the poetry of Elizabeth Bishop, on poemfilms, and end-of-life writing. I am currently working on a British Academy funded project, 'Yemen in Conflict', collaborating with colleagues at the University of Leeds and the Liverpool Arab Arts Festival. I am now working on a new book on creativity, ethics and aesthetics.
As well as working as a literary critic I am also a poet, and I have published five well-received volumes of poetry. 'The Memory Tray' (1994) was shortlisted for the Forward Prize for best first collection; more recently 'Burying the Wren' (2012) was shortlisted for the T.S. Eliot Prize, and the Roland Mathias Prize for Poetry; it was also a TLS Book of the Year and a Poetry Book Society Recommendation. I was named as a Next Generation poet by the Poetry Book Society in 2005, and have been invited to judge numerous poetry prizes, including the National Poetry Competition, the T.S. Eliot Prize, the Costa Prize (Poetry), and the Pigott Poetry Prize . Every two years I chair the judging panel for the English Association's Michael Murphy Poetry Prize for a best first collection of poetry. I'm the editor of 'Modern Women Poets', an anthology of twentieth-century women's poetry, and I am also the editor of Liverpool University's Press's Pavilion Poetry, http://www.liverpooluniversitypress.co.uk/collections/series-pavilion-poetry. My selected poems, 'What It's Like to Be Alive' was published in 2016 and is a Poetry Book Society Special Commendation. My most recent book of poems, 'Erato' is a Poetry Book Society Recommendation. I would welcome applications from students wishing to pursue doctoral work, either critical or creative, in poetry, gender, relationships between text and image, poemfilms; and more generally on interdisciplinary projects, in relationship to the visual arts, mental health, science, ecology.
I am a co-editor of 'Women: A Cultural Review' (Taylor and Francis) and, with Ralph Pite (Bristol) editor of Liverpool University Press' 'Poetry And' series.
I also co-direct the University of Liverpool's Centre for New and International Writing (www.liv.ac.uk/new-and-international-writing/).
My office hours this semester are Mondays from 12-1pm, or otherwise by appointment.
Prizes or Honours
- Cholmondeley Award (Society of Authors, 2010)
- Cholmondeley Award (The Society of Authors, 2010)
- Invitation to be a fellow of the English Association (English Association, 2008)
Other Personal Distinctions
- Invitation to Judge (Poetry Society, 2010)
- Invitation to judge 2006 Whitbread Prize (poetry) (Whitbread Prize, 2006)