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How we’re putting Newcastle on the poetry map

By Newcastle University
Simon Armitage, Joelle Taylor and Roger Robinson at the Newcastle Poetry Festival.

Newcastle Poetry Festival recently enjoyed a successful return to the city. Celebrating the very best in poetry, the outstanding line up included UK Poet Laureate Simon Armitage, and winner of the 2021 T.S. Eliot Prize, Joelle Taylor.

Organised by the Newcastle Centre for the Literary Arts (NCLA), the festival has attracted world renowned poets ever since its inception in 2015.

The festival is just one example of how Newcastle University has helped put the city on the poetry map.

Read on to discover how we’re helping Newcastle establish itself as a poetry capital.

Enhancing the cultural life of people in the North East

Our School of English Literature, Language and Linguistics is home to the NCLA and to some of the best poets publishing today. They include Professor Sinéad Morrissey who has received accolades including the National Poetry, Forward and TS Eliot prizes; Professor Jacob Polley who won the TS Eliot Prize for his collection Jackself and Emeritus Professor Sean O’Brien, the only poet to win the acclaimed Forward Prize for Best Collection three times.

Founded in 2009 by Emerita Professor Linda Anderson, herself a distinguished poet, the aim of the NCLA is to build new audiences for poetry and enhance the cultural life of people in the North East.

In 2013, the NCLA worked to enable the University to acquire the Bloodaxe Books archive, bringing the rich history of one of the most important contemporary poetry publishing houses into Special Collections at the University's Robinson Library.

Since we acquired the archive, it's been preserved, catalogued, curated, and made publicly accessible. It's also been the subject of innovative interdisciplinary research projects.

Poetry at Newcastle and beyond

The poetry festival and a busy schedule of live events, performances and readings has helped Newcastle establish itself as a poetry capital, with a growing national and international audience.

Poetry at Newcastle doesn’t just exist on campus. Professor Bill Herbert worked with construction firm Bussey and Armstrong to create an arts strategy for a major, 49-hectare residential property development at Westpark, Darlington, using poetry as a resource for the regeneration of the landscape. His strategy has had such a beneficial effect on residents at Westpark that it's been adopted as standard practice by Darlington Borough Council and other construction companies.

Further afield, the University’s ‘Out of Bounds’ Poetry Project, led by Professor James Procter, has worked with over 250 schools across mainland Britain, producing resources that are now embedded in the national GCSE curriculum. Working with place-based poetry by black and British Asian artists, ‘Out of Bounds’ has shaped and expanded public debate around Britishness through its work to decolonise curricula and diversify the content of cultural institutions.

Its work was showcased at the British Library’s critically acclaimed Windrush Exhibition in 2018, where its resources are being preserved for the next generation of readers.


Discover more of the culture and creative arts work happening at Newcastle University when you explore our blog.
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Images courtesy of Andi Talbot and Phyllis Christopher

Tags: Culture & Creative Arts, Alumni, Research Excellence