From Northern England to the World
We must think hard about local practices of speaking, thinking and writing if we are to understand the literary works of a particular region or city. This is certainly true of poetry in Leeds and in the north of England. An important part of this local heritage is the cultural and linguistic diversity of the region: a diversity and multiculturalism that is widely celebrated in northern England. The ‘Northern England to the World’ project aims to bring the local and the international together. To develop an understanding of the importance of international contexts, markets and networks in analysing local literary practices in the north of England, with a particular focus on poetry in Leeds.
The website aims to share some of the diverse literary and cultural collaborations that are rooted in the North of England: historically and in the present day. I also aim to re-situate works that are commonly held as ‘Northern’ or even ‘British’ by reading them in their international contexts of production and reception.
There are several strands to this project. At the heart of the project is my current research as a Leverhulme Early Career Research Fellow in the Department of English, 2016-2020. This research investigates the relations between poetry in Leeds and Nigeria in the 1950s and 60s, drawing on the exceptional poetry archives held in Special Collections at the Brotherton Library, Leeds. I am particularly interested in relations between poets in Leeds, Ibadan and Zaria, including Tony Harrison, Wole Soyinka, Niyi Osundare, James Simmons, J. P. Clark, Geoffrey Hill, Christopher Okigbo, Aig Higo and Minji Karibo.
I am also a practicing poet and member of the flourishing University of Leeds Poetry Centre. This website not only shares my research findings, but also presents a snapshot of some of the diverse cultural events that are happening in Leeds and Sheffield, and across the North of England. This diversity is what makes the region such a rich place to live and work. I welcome comments and contributions, so please get in touch!