Undergraduate Students Showcase Poetry

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Dr Nikolai Duffy introducing the first poet in a packed out Bar

Dr Nikolai Duffy introduces the first poet at Gorilla Bar

By Sarah Douglas

Final year students from the undergraduate Reading and Writing Poetry module, Department of English at Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU) took to the stage to perform at a live poetry event at Gorilla bar on Whitworth Street, Manchester.

It was standing room only at the event, with audience members made up of students and members of the public. The event marked the summation of a year’s critical and creative study of poetry across genres and styles.

The event started with a reading from Dr Andrew Rudd, lecturer in English and tutor on the module; an amusing take on a bus journey between Runcorn and Liverpool.

The undergraduates’ poetry was an eclectic mix of the humorous, profound and, sometimes, profane. Cara Connolly paid tribute to her three years of undergraduate by an amusing, and often poignant, procedural poem on her time at university, created from the lines of song lyrics her friends had suggested.

Kiera, reading a verse from the Koran, explained, “When I was a child it was the rhythm and the rhyme [of the Koran] that first got me into poetry.”

Following her was Joe, a part time undergraduate student who read a poem that imagined the cast of King Lear cast adrift on the ocean. Humanity Hallows’ very own reporter Chantelle read a series of confessional poems inspired by the work of John Berryman.

Other poems ranged from reflections on students’ journeys into university, international students’ thoughts from back home in the USA, social media inspired bemusement and personal reflections.

The event was organised by Dr Nikolai Duffy, senior lecturer in English at MMU.

“The final part of the module is their own writing, so they produce a portfolio of work. Another part of the course is about experiencing poetry in different ways. So today is a way to give the students the opportunity to do that, but it was also because it was the end of their degree and a chance to showcase their work and the transformation that has gone on over the past year.

The experience of doing this in a nice welcoming environment, and the experience of just getting it done, is paramount to their confidence, and to be able to go on and do it professionally. People have done some really good stuff over the past year and it’s great to be able to showcase it like this.”

For many students this was the first time they had performed their poetry in front of a live audience. Speaking after her reading, Cara Connolly said,

“I was really nervous starting, this is my first ever reading, I thought I was going to get heckled… now I wish I’d done this before. It was really good. All the lecturers are so interesting, so everything I have ever written has come off the back of leaving their lectures.”

The event was the first of its kind, and marked a significant contribution to the student experience by the department of English. With such a good turnout, and the obvious enthusiasm and quality of the poetry being read out, we hope that these events continue and build for next year’s cohort. With Prose and Script routes available for all undergraduate English students, there is certainly plenty of scope to put on more of these events in the future, and Humanity Hallows certainly hopes there will be.


Sarah Douglas studies Digital Media and Communications at MMU. 

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aAh! Magazine is Manchester Metropolitan University's arts and culture magazine.

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