Skip to main content

Dr Stephen Willey

  • Overview

    Overview

    Biography

    I'm a poet, researcher and critic, and have founded several London based poetry readings: Openned, Benefits and Watadd. I am committed to the development of dynamic poetry communities both in the UK and internationally.

    I specialise in American and British literature from the 20th and 21st centuries, with a focus on experimental and Late Modernist poetry from 1945. My monograph-in-progress, Sounding the Room of British Poetry: Internationalising Community in the School of Bob Cobbing, is a literary history of the international poetic and avant-garde from 1945 to the present day, as seen through the institutional commitments that defined the careers of a range of 20th century poets, artists, filmmakers, musicians and producers, but especially the British sound and concrete poet Bob Cobbing. I am also undertaking practice-led research into the relationship between diaspora, community organisation and the European avant-garde.

    Highlights

    Qualifications

    • BA, University of London, 2005
    • MA, University of London, 2007
    • PhD, University of London, 2013

    Web profiles

    Administrative responsibilities

    • Programme Director, BA Creative Writing and English
    • Admissions Officer, BA Creative Writing and English
    • Director of the Contemporary Poetics Research Centre

    Visiting posts

    Professional memberships

    • Member of the Council for British Research in the Levant

    Honours and awards

    • Team-Based Fieldwork Award: Incarceration and Poetry: The Creative Writing Workshop as a Mode of Cultural Transmission and Identity Formation in Palestine, The Council for British Research in the Levant,
    • Artists’ International Development Award of £2000 to travel to Palestine to deliver poetry workshops to refugees, and to take up residency at the Palestine Writing Centre in Birzeit, Palestine., Arts Council England and the British Council , December 2013
    • Writer in Residence (Summer 2014), The University of Arizona Poetry Center,
    • AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Award, part of the Beyond Text Project , AHRC, December 2008

    ORCID

    0000-0001-7393-7185
  • Research

    Research

    Research interests

    • Sound poetry
    • Experimental and Avant-Garde Poetics
    • Poetics of Solidarity and Relationality
    • Politics and poetry
    • Small Press Publication
    • The representation of race in poetry
    • Eco-poetics
    • Radical and liberatory pedagogies

    Research overview

    I specialise in American and British literature from the 20th and 21st centuries, with a focus on experimental and Late Modernist poetry from 1945. My monograph-in-progress, Sounding the Room of British Poetry: Internationalising Community in the School of Bob Cobbing, is a literary history of the international poetic and avant-garde from 1945-2008, as seen through the institutional commitments that defined the careers of a range of 20th century poets, artists, filmmakers, musicians and BBC producers. In addition, I am undertaking practice-led research into the relationship between diaspora cultures, community organisation and the European avant-garde. My most recent book is Living In: Creative Solidarities in Palestine (The Onslaught Press: 2020)

    Research Centres and Institutes

    Research projects

    Incarceration and Poetry: The Creative Writing Workshop as Mode of cultural Transmission and Identify Formation in Palestine

  • Supervision and teaching

    Supervision and teaching

    Supervision

    I welcome enquiries from prospective PhD students who are interested in undertaking practice-based or more traditional research in any of my areas of interest. My current and past PhD students who I have supervised give a further indication of my research interests: 

    Recent Completions

    • Fran Lock, 'Impossible Telling: Defining the Epistolary Form in Contemporary Poetry in Relation to Mourning and to Trauma'. Co-Supervised with Peter Fifield. (Completed 2020)

    Current Students

    • Bronac Ferran, 'Mediating the Concrete: Hansjörg Mayer as a Poet of Transition'. Co-Supervised with Martin Eve and Mark Blacklock. Candidate awarded School of Arts funding.
    • Matt Martin, 'Nation Language Poetry as Political Resistance in the Caribbean and the UK'. Co-Supervised with Emily Senior. Candidate awarded the Stewart Hall PhD Scholarship.
    • Kayombo Chingonyi, 'Musical Sampling, Literary Allusion, and Performance Praxis in Black Atlantic Poetry'. Candidate awarded the Diversity 100 PhD studentship.

    Current Supervisions

    • Joint Principal Supervisor for 4 Birkbeck students
    • Principal Supervisor for 1 Birkbeck students
    • Second Supervisor for 1 Birkbeck students

    Teaching

    I currently teach on several BA and MA Creative Writing programmes and modules including:

    Migration Literatures and Cultures (from 2021-22)

    The MA Poetry Workshop (Level 7)

    The Creative Critical Seam (Level 6)

    The Publishing Project (Level 6)

    Poetry Workshop 1 (Level 5)

    Introduction to Poetry (Level 4)


    I supervise final year BA dissertation students and students on Birkbeck's MA and MFA in Creative Writing

    Teaching modules

    • Poetry Workshop 1 (AREN041S5)
    • Poetry Workshop (AREN120S7)
    • The Publishing Project (AREN182H6)
    • Introduction to Poetry (AREN219H4)
    • The Creative Critical Seam (AREN221S6)
  • Publications

    Publications

    Article

    Book

    Book Section

    • Willey, Stephen (2015) Living in: in sufficiency. In: Freeman, R. (ed.) Extraordinary Rendition: (American) Writers on Palestine. New York, U.S.: Or Books. ISBN 9781682190081.

    External Repositories

  • Business and community

    Business and community

    Outreach

    I believe in the importance of communicating my research and sharing my expertise in teaching beyond the academy and do this by partnering with local and internationally based arts-organisations.

    During 2016 I worked with Miriam Sherwood (Producing Assistant, Family/Theatre and Heritage) at the Battersea Arts Centre to deliver a Town Hall Talk which looked at the heritage of the building and the local area through the prism of the contemporary and experimental poetry ephemera held in the BAC archives. 

    I have worked collaboratively with Arts Council Funded press Knives Forks and Spoons, the publisher of my book Sea Fever (a poem that thinks through the connection between life in occupied Palestine and migration experiences into Europe) to install pages from the poem as part of the Blackpool Illuminations, an event which draws in audiences from across the UK.

    In the same year I contributed to and strengthened the School of Arts/ICA partnership by speaking at the ‘Mediating City-Scapes Symposium’ on ‘The Poetics of the London Filmmakers’ Cooperative’.

    My commitment to radio as a means of disseminating my research is evidenced through my participation in the ‘Making Conversations’ series (broadcast on and archived at Resonance FM) where I discussed the work of British concrete poet Bob Cobbing, and in the podcast ‘Birkbeck Voices 42: Arts Week 201  6 Highlights’ where I spoke on ‘Creative Writing and the Refugee’.

    I am active as a reviewer of other poets, including writing an ‘Introduction to the Poetry of Will Rowe’ for ‘Culture Matters’ (a collective of writers and activists who have come together to provide webspace and editorial and technical support for a 'broad left' cultural struggle for a better society).

    Since 2015 I have also continued to deepen my relationships with poets in the West Bank including Alice Yousef (who participated in ‘Words on the Move 4’ 2019), Najwan Darwish, Mohammed A. Jamoos (Director of Fundraising at Al Quds University, previously Deputy Manager of the Abu Jihad Museum), the Lajee Centre (a Palestinian-led NGO and grassroots cultural center) and The Palestine Writing Workshop.

    I maintain active links with the experimental poetry micro-publishing scene in London and internationally, and through the Contemporary Poetics Research Centre I have hosted readings in collaboration with Veer Press, Crater Press and Spiralbound Editions, all of whom have been active in publishing the work of Birkbeck PhD students alongside other internationally recognised poets.

    I have run events for Birkbeck’s Arts Week, an annual showcase of the varied activities of Birkbeck’s academics, putting on events, including hosting three contemporary American poets Rob Halpern, Peter Gizzi and Matvei Yankelevich, and running a symposium on Halpern’s work.

    Finally, I also respond to outreach efforts made by colleagues in other departments. After attending ‘Tejas Verdes: I was not there’ – a collaborative project between sociologist Dr Margarita Palacios and London-based Chilean visual artist Livia Marin, held at the Peltz Gallery (3 June to 15 July 2016) I responded to an invitation to provide a textual response to the exhibition which I did in a series of poems.

    I serve on the editorial committee of the Mechanic Institute Review Online.