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Key figures at the Centre include: Dr Niall Munro (Director of the Centre), Mary Jean Chan, Claire Cox, Dr Andrea Macrae, Professor Simon Kövesi, Dr Dinah Roe, Professor Alex Goody, Dr Eric White, and Dr Simon White.
The Centre is dedicated to creating research into poetry, encouraging the reading and writing of poetry within Oxford and beyond, and advocating for the importance of poetry in today's society. We do all this through the promotion of the latest work by members of staff (find out more about that work here), by running an international poetry competition, by publishing poetry, and by running projects and events, such as conferences, readings, and open mics which are open to all.
In 2017, the Poetry Centre established ignitionpress, a poetry pamphlet press with an international outlook which publishes original, arresting poetry from emerging poets, and established poets working on interim or special projects. Our first pamphlets, with work by Lily Blacksell, Mary Jean Chan, and Patrick James Errington, were published in February 2018, and the second batch, featuring poetry by Natalie Whittaker and Belinda Zhawi, were published in October 2018.
Past projects have been in the areas of poetry and science; poetry and the environment; poetry and business; poetry and mental health; and performance poetry in Oxfordshire. From 2008-9 the Centre also ran a project pairing poets with refugees and asylum seekers to work collaboratively on new poetry. The result of this was the anthology See How I Land: Oxford Poets and Exiled Writers, which you can download here. You can learn more about all of these projects and more by clicking on the Projects link to the left of this page.
Within Brookes, the Poetry Centre runs an internship programme for undergraduates, during which the interns help to run numerous projects such as events for National Poetry Day, a contemporary poetry reading group, and spoken word evenings. You can read more about these projects by clicking on the relevant Projects link to the left. The Centre also acts as a base for PhD students studying and writing in the area, and contributes every semester to the EML Research Seminar series. We also preview our activities and review new books of poetry on our Blog.
In collaboration with Oxford City Council, the Centre co-ordinated the Oxford City Poet scheme from 2011-13. The City Poet's remit was to encourage both the reading and writing of poetry in Oxford and the region. The first City Poet was Kate Clanchy, and you can find out about her work in the Projects section of the site. In 2013, Kate Clanchy, the Poetry Centre, and Oxford City Council also set up the post of Oxford Youth Ambassador for Poetry, which was held by Azfa Awad between 2013-14.
The Centre is actively involved in social media and digital outreach. As well as promoting research and events with regular posts via Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, it has also run a Weekly Poem initiative since 2007 through which the work of independent presses and their poets is showcased every Monday. These poems are then archived as a permanent record of important contemporary poets and trends in poetry. The website also features the Centre’s dedicated podcasts, which are designed to allow poets from Oxfordshire - and occasionally visiting poets - the space to discuss their work and ideas.