Who am I?
I am a teacher of American literature, poetry and poetics. I’m also a Convenor of American Poetics, American Spaces and Reading Poetry (MA Creative Writing). Other areas I tutor in include Approaches to Poetry, American Spaces, Contemporary American Writing and Researching Contemporary Cultures.
My main area of research explores different forms of writing which combine critical and creative practice. Much of my own practice in this area stems from scholarly research into modern and contemporary poetry and poetics; experimental writing in theory and practice; the relation between literature and philosophy (especially the work of Maurice Blanchot, Jacques Derrida, and Emmanuel Levinas); literature and the visual arts; Samuel Beckett; 20th century American literature.
My approach to learning and teaching is collaborative, questioning, and engaged. The French-Egyptian writer Edmond Jabès once commented that ‘we always start out from a written text and come back to the text to be written.’ In other words there always emerges on the page before us a blank spot where we see more than we are consciously aware. It is an experience of disassociation; vision without visual consciousness. For me, what’s important is how that blank spot is read.
Outside of work I run a small literary press called Like This Press which specialises in publishing handmade pamphlets and limited edition books-in-boxes. I used to want to be a tennis player. I still do. My wife describes me as dashing, debonair, and prone to hyperbole.
Why do I teach?
Literature does many things, not all of them clear or quantifiable. Most often, reading is a balance between glimpses and fades, connections and gaps. Semantic fields slide and frames of reference come and go. Passages we once thought we understood are suddenly incomprehensible again. Things change and life shifts. Literature asks questions of the world, asks questions of us and makes challenge ourselves and where we stand in this world that is not straightforward.
Words of wisdom
As much as trying to work out what a literary text might be saying, always try to think about what it is a literary text is doing as well. And whatever you read, remember it’s ok to get lost; it’s difficult to discover things if we’re not prepared to lose ourselves sometimes.
In the words of Ferris Bueller, ‘Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.’