Who am I?

I’m Professor of Creative Writing here at MMU, specialising in poetry. I’m the author of four collections of poetry, a collection of short stories and a memoir about beach-combing which won the Portico Prize for Non-Fiction in 2012. Other proud moments include my collection, Hard Water becoming a Poetry Book Society Recommendation, winning the Costa Poetry Award in 2008 and being shortlisted for both the T S Eliot Prize and the Whitbread Award for Poetry.

Much of my teaching happens in workshops, where students write there and then in response to a prompt or exercise of some kind. It’s an informal, collaborative style of teaching and learning where everyone has something to contribute. I like the word ‘workshop’ because it’s a reminder that there is craft involved, and techniques to be learnt and practised.

My research interests are in creative writing: principally poetry, but also non-fiction writing about place and landscape. Writing is my life; there is only a very indistinct line between work and leisure time. Like all poets, I spend a lot of time looking, listening, reading and thinking before putting pen to paper. I love walking, travelling and music, but even they feed into the writing in their own ways.

Why do I teach?

I enjoy working with writers, whether they are taking the first tentative steps or writing with confidence and getting their work published. Each student takes a unique journey from enrolment to graduation and it’s a great privilege to play a part in it.

Words of wisdom

Anyone interested in studying creative writing needs to read. It’s not just about reading for pleasure, but reading as a writer. You must develop a curiosity about how a poem is made and how it achieves its effect.

Personal website:

Read my full academic profile on the Department of English at MMU website.

Published Work