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North West Poetry and Poetics Network Returns to MMU

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By Jacqueline Grima

Poets and academics were invited to Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU) this week for the latest meeting of the North West Poetry and Poetics Network. Hosted by MMU’s Professor of Modern and Contemporary Poetry, Antony Rowland, and coinciding with National Poetry Day, the gathering invited scholars from all over the North West to discuss their current projects and to enjoy some integrated creative readings.

Before the event began, Antony spoke to Humanity Hallows about the theme of the meeting:

“This is the only the second time the Network has met and the first meeting earlier in the year was a great success. This time we have decided to focus on the theme of ‘collaboration’, looking at the relationship between poetry and other art forms.”

The first speaker at the event was Dr Scott Thurston, Reader in English at the University of Salford. Scott was introduced by MMU Senior Lecturer, Dr Angela Michelis, before he went on to speak about his study of the relationship, or collaboration, between poetry and movement, in particular dance. He told the audience how, during his twenty-five years of studying and writing poetry and his eleven years of studying movement, he has become fascinated by the relationship between the two. Scott said:

“What I learnt about the muscular and skeletal systems affected my writing and critical thinking in all sorts of ways. When I read poetry I usually like to move around anyway. There is a real connection between the rhythm of words and movement.”

He added: “The movement I find fascinating in poetry I was also finding in dance. When you bring two different art forms together, like music and poetry or poetry and dance, you start to see there is common territory.”

Scott then told how he began to collaborate with a colleague at the University of Salford, Sarie Mairs Slee, who had studied dance. He finished by showing the audience some video clips of how poetry and dance can work together, including a clip of the 2013 performance of Wim Vandekeybus’ ‘What The Body Does Not Remember’.

The second speaker at the event was Dr Amy Cutler, a Postdoctoral Research Fellow from the University of Leeds who was introduced by MMU PhD student and Associate Lecturer in English, Martin Kratz.

Amy talked to the group about her research into the collaboration between poetry and the space, or topography, of the physical page, paying particular attention to the annotations and notes often made in the margins of books by readers. This concept has been labelled ‘marginalia’. Amy said:

“The margin is both a mechanism for creating questions and answering questions. It is a collaborative space between author, annotator and reader.”

She went on to discuss the marginal notes surrounding the work of poet Peter Larkin before showing the audience some experimental ‘marginalia’ that had been collected into an exhibition. One example showed how a group of saplings had been encouraged to grow through a page of a book.

The event finished with a reading from Alistair Noon, a British poet who now lives in Berlin. Alistair’s work includes collections Across the Water and Swamp Area as well as a translation of Alexander Pushkin’s poem ‘The Bronze Horseman’. His latest collection The Kerosene Singing has recently been published by Nine Arches Press.

The North West Poetry and Poetics Network meets twice a year with gatherings at the University of Salford and the University of Manchester already planned for 2016.

Martin Kratz told Humanity Hallows: “It’s great to get the Network off the ground by hosting the initial meetings at MMU but the prospect of holding meetings at other places in the North West is really exciting.”

For more information about the events, email Antony Rowland at

Jacqueline Grima is currently studying for an MA in Creative Writing. Her creative work has recently appeared in The Literary Commune and on the Literally Stories website. Follow her on Twitter @GrimaJgrima

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

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