Room to Rhyme: Poetry, Arts Policy and Crisis

Afternoon Workshop

Room to Rhyme is a British Academy funded research project investigating literature, crisis, arts policy and the public sphere, with special attention to poetry in Northern Ireland between 1968 and 1978. The first project workshop will take place at the University of Reading on the afternoon of 29th April 2107. The afternoon will have an informal, interdisciplinary and collaborative atmosphere and is designed to promote discussion and facilitate contact between participants.

We are delighted to welcome Professor Marie Breen-Smyth, who will speak on her extensive and acclaimed work on conflict resolution, and poet, activist and film maker Damien Gorman, who will speak on, and present a short film about, his work in peace and reconciliation in Northern Ireland. Conor Carville will also present the results of recent research in the Northern Irish poetry archives at Emory University and the Arts Council Northern Ireland Archives. Other invited participants include:

  • Siobhan Campbell (poet, Open University)
  • George Legg (academic, Kings College, London)
  • Steven Matthews (poet and critic, University of Reading)
  • Peter Robinson (poet and critic, University of Reading)
  • Derval Tubridy (artist and critic, Goldsmiths University)

The three papers and film are intended to provoke open discussion on the following areas: the impact of literary and artistic culture on political crisis; the relationship between art and state funding during crisis; the extent to which crisis can be represented; the role of art in conflict resolution and reconciliation; the role of literary and artistic culture in the maintenance of a narrowing public sphere; opportunities and directions for further research.

The event is free and open to anyone interested. A sandwich lunch, plus tea and coffee, will be provided. If you would like to attend, please email the organiser, Conor Carville on

As places are limited, we urge you to get in touch soon (definitely by Wednesday 22nd November) – places will be allocated on a first come, first served basis.

Man Booker Prize winner could open floodgates for American novelists

By David Brauner, Professor of Contemporary Literature, University of Reading

Lincoln in the Bardo is a worthy winner of the Man Booker Prize and is further confirmation of the supremacy of American authors in the field of contemporary fiction, following Paul Beatty’s win last year for The Sellout.

With a few notable exceptions, British novelists seem tame and timid in comparison to their American counterparts. It was great to see Kazuo Ishiguro win the Nobel Prize but he would probably be the first to agree with Garrison Keillor that it’s a scandal that so many of the great contemporary Americans – Philip Roth pre-eminent among them – have been consistently overlooked for the honour. Every year, for the best part of two decades, Roth has been heavily tipped for the prize – alongside fellow Americans Don DeLillo, Thomas Pynchon and Joyce Carol Oates – but when, last year, they finally decided to give it to an American writer (an American Jewish writer, at that), it was Robert Zimmerman (aka Bob Dylan) who got the nod.

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