Natalie Burdett

    Writing the West Midlands: A GeoHumanities Approach to the Poetry of Place

    This practice-led project investigates how creative-critical practice opens up new ways to imagine and understand the complex geographies of the post-industrial, urban West Midlands.

    Contemporary GeoHumanist Michael Dear argued that the multiplicity of place means ‘transdisciplinarity, comparative analysis, and a critical self-reflexivity become prerequisites for successful theory and practice in the geohumanities.’ (2011) As a poet with a deep-rooted interest in place, my overarching aim is to investigate how GeoHumanities methodologies can shape spatial thinking, to develop understanding and expand poetic representation. Creative work and critical research proceed iteratively, provoking and informing one another, interweaving in the dynamic space between poetic practice and spatial theories. For example, I am currently researching and practising the use of dialect in poetry as a key component of sense of place.

    My research will produce a substantial body of original poems drawn from field-work; review post-1960 West Midlands place poetry; examine the creative approaches used to highlight geographical themes; plus expand regional knowledge and understanding, using existing spatial theories and auto-ethnography. Ultimately, it will expand knowledge in the GeoHumanities, through ‘using poetry as a creative literary form of geographical world-writing’ (Madge, 2014).

    Research Degree: PhD (practice-led), Part-time
    Department: English