News

A Body of Words: The Body Beautiful

0 192

By Pruthvi Khilosia


Manchester Metropolitan University presented the latest event in the A Body of Words series, offering critical and creative perspectives on body image. The event featured moving performances from academics and poets including Dr Muzna Rahman, Alan Buckley and Helen Mort.

The evening’s first performance was by Dr Rahman who read an interesting poem about the female body. Dr Rahman is a lecturer at Manchester Met in contemporary postcolonial and world literature with a particular interest in representations of food and hunger in literature and film.

She explained how she was particularly inspired by Roxane Gay, an American writer known for writing about women’s image in society, and she used that inspiration to begin the night with an in-depth poem about women’s body image in society, exploring weight, sexuality and links to her own identity.

Poets Mort and Buckley went on to perform their co-created live literature show exploring how we live through our bodies. They read ‘The Body Beautiful’, performed in a duo, alongside other poems about the prejudices faced by female rock climbers, the male gaze, our complex relationship with physical beauty, and the mystery of fire-eating.

Buckley, a psychotherapist from Oxford, explained how he was drawn to poetry through his personal experiences. “I wrote poetry and short stories when I was very young and I stopped writing as a teenager because and I was discouraged to write at high school as of the focus on exams,” he said.

“I came back to writing in my late 30s. I split up with somebody and the best way to deal with it was by writing and it lead my back to rediscovering that I am a writer. People often come to writing through some personal crisis to put a framework around their experiences,” he added.

Mort is a lecturer in Creative Writing at the Manchester Metropolitan University. She has published two collections with Chatto & Windus, Division Street (winner of the Fenton Aldeburgh Prize, shortlisted for the Costa Prize and T.S. Eliot Prize) and No Map Could Show Them. Her first novel Black Car Burning is forthcoming in 2018.

“Body image has always been a theme in my own poetry, from perceptions of early female mountaineers to ideas about dieting and weight loss. I wanted to set up a series of events that combined creative and critical perspectives on the body, creating a dialogue,” says Mort.

Mort discussed collaborative approach of Manchester Metropolitan’s English department and that its “strength” of having writers and academics working closely with each other. She discussed hopes to start some new collaborations, commenting: “I think poetry is a great way of getting a message across succinctly and powerfully.”

Audience member Ann Heathcoate from Worsley told Humanity Hallows that she was fan of poetry and was particularly drawn to this event. She said, “It was powerful and moving, both the talk by Muzna Rahman about the grossly overweight woman and her experiences, and as an overweight woman myself I found that very powerful.

“The poems by Alan and Helen, they chose very powerful poems to to reflect on the body beautiful. I want to go away and write more poetry now.”

This latest performance of creativity certainly had an impact on the audience and added important commentary to the wider discussions of body image in society.


For details of future Manchester Writing School events visit www.manchesterwritingschool.co.uk/events

About the author / 

Pruthvi Khilosia

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

More News Stories:

  • 9 acts not to miss at Dialled In Manchester

    Featured image: Avlien Avel Shah Dialled In is an artist-led platform that showcases South Asian creativity and culture through music and art. They champion artists from underrepresented communities, celebrating South Asian culture while creating a space for the diaspora in the UK. Since 2021, they’ve been busy with international projects, including a V&A late and…

  • Graduate Stories: Museum of Science and Industry’s Lucy Simpson on the success, rejection and freedom that comes with life after graduation

    Featured image: Lucy Simpson Our new Graduate Stories series uncovers the diverse experiences of Manchester Met alumni, exploring the reality of life after graduation and highlighting career achievements. We shed light on the different paths graduates take, share relatable and honest advice, and provide practical tips for students who may feel uncertain about their next steps. In…

  • Graduate Stories: TV Producer Hannah Ewing: “The I did an English degree so it wouldn’t pigeonhole me”

    Featured image: Hannah Ewing Our new Graduate Stories series uncovers the diverse experiences of Manchester Met alumni, exploring the reality of life after graduation and highlighting career achievements. We shed light on the different paths graduates take, share relatable and honest advice, and provide practical tips for students who may feel uncertain about their next steps. Having…