Doctoral Students

Fran Lock

The dead letter box: impossible telling through epistolary poetry.

My research examines the relationship between the epistolary form in contemporary poetry and the use of letters in therapeutic contexts. Through both critical and creative work I seek to interrogate poetic strategies by which trauma may be “told”, i.e. assimilated, integrated, and transformed into some kind of narrative language. My research will explore the idea that the epistolary form is one way in which this process takes place.

For more details:

Supervisors: Dr Peter Fifield and Dr Steve Willey.


Matt Martin

Nation Language Poetry as Political Resistance in the Caribbean and the UK.

My research focuses on the Barbadian poet Kamau Brathwaite’s “nation language” poems written with Caribbean speech patterns, and on comparable approaches in the avant-garde British poet Bill Griffiths’ use of dialect from County Durham. The goal is to find ways for U.K. poetry to learn from theory and practice that have developed in the Caribbean, so that British writing can respond with similar innovativeness to its own local conditions of language and culture, giving voice to communities that are often marginalised from centres of literary power. This may contribute towards a sense of common cause and a shared body of tactics for diverse communities around Britain, in the Caribbean, and elsewhere.

I hold a BA in English from the University of York and an MA in Poetic Practice from Royal Holloway, University of London. I’ve recently returned to university after a career in London museums, where I specialised in sharing knowledge of the city’s port history and its role in the transatlantic slave trade. Matt is Stuart Hall Research Scholar at Birkbeck and is grateful to the Foundation for its support of his studies.

My poetry publications include spider bite (Kater Murr’s Press, 2012), full spectrum apothesosis (Contraband Books, 2013) and the forthcoming open parenthesis (Paminar Press). Recent poetry and criticism have appeared in journals like Tentacular, ctrl+alt+delDatableed, Hix Eros, The Goose, Purge and 3am Magazine. Visual work has featured in exhibitions such as Visual Poetics (South Bank Centre, 2013). I maintain and update the CPRC’s Innovative Poetry Readings in London listings page.


Bronac Ferran

Language In Formation: Hansjörg Mayer & the Typoetical Revolution (1958-1970).

This research focusses on Hansjörg Mayer – poet, designer and typographer  of concrete poetry in the 1960s exploring his role as leading nterface to emerging computation of the period, situating this within a broader context of intersections between the languages of code, design, poetry and typography between 1958-1970.

Supervisors: Professor Martin Eve, Dr Steve Willey and Professor Roger Luckhurst.

Image Credit: o i l (Hansjörg Mayer, 1965)


Vicky Sparrow

“I object”: Legal subject and lyric subjectivity in the poetry of Anna Mendelssohn

This AHRC-funded thesis explores the poetry and poetics of the British poet and political activist, Anna Mendelssohn (1948-2009), also known as Grace Lake. The thesis considers how the pressures of the law upon subjectivity transform Mendelssohn’s lyric self.

Supervisor (external): Professor Carol Watts