Dr Polly Atkin



Personal statement

I have joined Strathclyde as a lecturer in English Studies in September 2014, and will be teaching a mixture of Creative Writing and English Literature courses. 

My doctorate on the making of meaning around Dove Cottage, Grasmere, was conducted under the AHRC Landscape and Environment project, in collaboration with The Wordsworth Trust, and the departments of Sociology and English and Creative Writing at Lancaster University. I am currently working on a monograph drawn from this, exploring the connections between Romantic legacies, contemporary creativity, ecopoetics, tourism and place. I co-curate a collaborative digital humanities project, investigating grave and burial cultures from multi-disciplinary perspectives at <www.gravestoneproject.com>. 

My debut poetry pamphlet bone song (Clitheroe: Aussteiger, 2008) was shortlisted for the Michael Marks Award, 2009. My second poetry pamphlet Shadow Dispatches (Bridgend: Seren, 2013) won the Mslexia Pamphlet Prize, 2012, and was shortlisted for the Lakeland Book of the Year, 2014. I was awarded the Andrew Waterhouse Poetry Prize in the 2014 Northern Writers’ Awards, for work in progress which ‘reflects a strong sense of place or the natural environment’. 

My work has been placed in various competitions. Most recently, my poem ‘A short history of the moon’ won the 2014 Wigtown Poetry Prize. 

I am a 2014 Knowledge Exchange Research Fellow for FASS (Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences) at Lancaster University. 

Research interests

My doctoral research focused on the production and perpetuation of meaning around heritage sites through the particular example of Dove Cottage in Grasmere. Encompassing all periods from the 1790s to the present, it incorporated elements of history and philosophy as well as literary criticism and sociology. My thesis, A Place Reimagined: The Cultural, Literary and Spatial Making of Dove Cottage, Grasmere, is heavily invested in literary geographies, and particularly in the role of literature in creating and perpetuating meaning around place in an ecopoietic sense.

This was funded as a collaborative doctoral award by the AHRC under its Landscape and Environment project, and conducted between the departments of Sociology, and English and Creative Writing, at Lancaster University, with The Wordsworth Trust as a collaborative partner. My field research involved various methodologies, from observations made as a participant observer at the Wordsworth Trust, to qualitative interviews with visitors to the Wordsworth Trust, to archival work, and much else besides. 

My MA thesis (in Creative Writing at Royal Holloway) similarly drew on interdisciplinary methodologies, using examples from nineteenth and twentieth century literature to discuss the relationship between poetic practice and bodily health. All these areas continue to inform and underpin both my creative and academic work.

My on-going work continues to be concerned with the construction of the Lake District as a cultural centre, and with Romantic Legacies and the role of contemporary creativity in perpetuating Romantic tropes (consciously or unconsciously) in a broader sense. As a practicing poet I am also interested in various aspects of contemporary poetics, particularly in relationships between poetry and place(s), notions of the contemporary in poetry, and in the role of poetry in society. 

I am particularly interested in the intersections between visual and literary arts, and the presentation of poetry as something that might be stumbled upon during the course of an ordinary day, which intersects with an interest in public art, street art, slow poetry, and site-specific writing. 

I co-curate The Gravestone Project with Dr. Emily Stanback (University of Southern Mississippi): a collaborative digital humanities project gathering data on eighteenth and nineteenth century graves and burial cultures.