Carol Rumens

Carol Rumens
Visiting Professor of Creative Writing
Room 302, Main Arts

Enjoys teaching

I enjoy teaching and supervising Creative Writing in a range of genres (poetry, fiction, and drama) and with students at all levels, from complete beginners to post-graduates and published writers. I believe Creative Writing as a discipline belongs integrally with the study of Literature, and that the practice of imaginative original writing helps us to be better readers, to no less a degree than the study of literature helps us to be better writers.

Research Profile

I am interested in poetic form and rhythm and in exploring in my own poems various tracks across what has become a continent of possibilities. As a “senior” writer, I want to test the boundaries in my own work against the work of younger generations, challenge some of my assumptions, and, while being true to myself and faithful to the  techniques which I know to be productive, judiciously absorb the possibilities in terms of different ways of configuring syntax, for example, or notating the rhythms of the voice on the page.

My fascination with the conversations poets conduct, not only with their contemporaries but across periods and cultures, informs my teaching as well as my writing, and I see this universe of allusion as a consistently exciting dimension to share with others. I am also interested in the poetry which falls outside that which establishes the set of criteria for a particular movement or period – but this doesn’t mean a wholesale rejection of the canonical. The kind of poetry sometimes categorised and castigated in the UK as Light Verse is one of the ‘weapons’ in my refusal to believe in the Death of the General Reader. In whatever medium I choose, I seek to honour this reader.

The big question in poetry’s newly expanded, 21st-century democratic republic seems at heart a simple one: poetry or poetries? I am outlining a collection of my reviews and essays under the title A Justified Plural? It may or may not lead me to an answer!

Book-Length Publications


A Strange Girl in Bright Colours (Quartet, 1974).
Unplayed Music (Secker, 1981).   Poetry Book Society (PBS) Recommendation
Star Whisper (Secker, 1983). PBS Choice, Shortlisted for the Dylan Thomas Prize
Direct Dialling  (Chatto, 1985).
Selected Poems (Chatto, 1987),    PBS Special Commendation
The Greening of the Snow Beach (Bloodaxe, 1988).   PBS Recommendation
From Berlin to Heaven (Chatto, 1989).
Thinking of Skins (Bloodaxe, 1993).    PBS Special Commendation
Best China Sky (Bloodaxe 1995).         PBS Recommendation
The Miracle Diet (Bloodaxe, 1998).
Holding Pattern (Blackstaff, 1999).    Shortlisted for the Belfast City Arts Award
Hex (Bloodaxe, 2002).                          PBS Recommendation
Poems, 1968 -2004 (Bloodaxe, 2004).
Blind Spots (Seren, 2008).
De Chirico’s Threads (Seren 2010).


Plato Park (Chatto, 1987, Flamingo Paperback, 1988)

Literary Criticism

Self into Song (Bloodaxe-Newcastle Poetry Lectures, Bloodaxe, 2007)

Prizes for Poetry

The Alice Hunt Bartlett Award (joint-winner with Thomas McCarthy, 1981).
The Prudence Farmer Prize, 1982.
The Cholmondeley Award, 1987
“Against Posterity” won First Prize in National Poetry Competition, BT section, 2001
“The Submerged Cathedral” was shortlisted for the Forward Prize Best Single Poem, 2002.
“Baby, Baby, Baby” won First Prize in the Peterloo Poetry Competition, 2003

Chapters, etc. Contributed to Books and Other Publications

“Peaceful Symmetries”, The Creative Writing Coursebook, Eds. Bell and Magrs (UEA, 2001).
“Talking and Singing: Anne Stevenson’s Variations on a Rhythmical Theme”, Voyages Over Voices: Critical Essays on Anne Stevenson, Ed. Angela Leighton (LUP, 2010).
“Time to Bring Home the Troops”, Aberration in Modern Poetry, Eds. Collins and Matterson (McFarland, 2011).
“I Eat Cream-Cakes but I Don’t Understand Them”,  About Larkin 29, April 2010  (The Journal of the Philip Larkin Society, Ed. James Booth).
Various entries (Gillian Allnutt, Carol Ann Duffy et al) in The Oxford Companion to Modern Poetry (2nd. Edition, Ed. Jeremy Noel-Todd, OUP, 2013).

Literary Journalism

I have published book reviews and assorted literary journalism in the following newspapers and poetry journals: Agenda, The Croydon Advertiser, Guardian,  Independent, The Honest Ulsterman, The Irish News, Irish Review, The Irish Times, The Observer, Sunday Times, PN Review, Poetry Review, Poetry London, Poetry Wales, TLS, The Yellow Nib.
Since October, 2007, I have contributed a regular feature, “Poem of the Week”, to Guardian Books Online.

Selected Anthologies featuring my work

The Penguin Book of Contemporary British Poetry, Eds. (Motion and Morrison, 1985)
The Faber Book of 20th Century Women’s Poetry (Fleur Adcock, 1987)
Six Women Poets (Oxford Student Texts, 1992)
The Bloodaxe Book of 20th Century Poetry from Britain and Ireland. Ed. Edna Longley (1992).
The Firebox: Poetry from Britain and Ireland After 1945, ed. Sean O’Brien (Picador, 1998).
The Penguin Anthology of Poetry from Britain and Ireland Since 1945, eds. Armitage and Crawford (Penguin, 1998).
Scanning the Century: The Penguin Book of the Twentieth Century in Poetry, ed. Peter Forbes (Penguin, 2000).
Red Sky at Night: Socialist Poetry (Croft and Mitchell, 2003).
Modern Women Poets, ed. Deryn Rees Jones (Bloodaxe, 2005).
Best Poems on the Underground, eds. Benson, Chernaik and Herbert, (Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 2009).
Women’s Work, eds. Salzman and Wack (Seren, 2010).
Overheard on a Salt-Marsh: Poets’ Favourite Poems, ed. Duffy (Picador 2009).
The Captain’s Tower: Poems for Bob Dylan at 70, ed. Bowen et al (Seren 2010).
A Mutual Friend: Poems for Charles Dickens, ed. Peter Robinson (Two Rivers Press/ The English Association, 2012).
Newspaper Taxis: Poetry After the Beatles ed. Bowen et al (Seren, 2012).
The Arts of Peace, eds. Blamires and Robinson (Two Rivers Press, 2014).

Anthologies and Collections Edited

Making for the Open: Postfeminist Poetry (Chatto 1987).
New Women Poets (Bloodaxe, 1991).
Two Women Dancing: Selected Poems by Elizabeth Bartlett (Bloodaxe, 1994).
And Saturday is Christmas: Collected Poems by Maurice Rutherford (Shoestring Press, 2011).


My translations are included in my own collections and in the following volumes:
The Poetry of Perestroika, eds. Levitas and Mortimer (Iron Press, 1989).
Pencil Letter, Irina Ratushinskaya (Bloodaxe 1990).
After Pushkin (Carcanet, 1999).
Selected Poems by Yevgeni Rein, ed. Polukhina (Bloodaxe, 2000).
Saudade: An Anthology of Fado Poetry, eds. Khalvati and Moura (Calouste-Gulbenkian, 2012).
Inspired by Hungarian Poetry: British Poet in Conversation with Attila József. Ed. George Szirtes (The Balassi Institute, 2013).


Nearly Siberia, The Pascal Theatre Company, London (Soho Poly) and Newcastle (The Gulbenkian Studio) 1989.
The Freak of the Week Show, Eye Spy Theatre Company, Didsbury Studio, Manchester, 2000.
Suzanne Hecabe, Arden School of Theatre, Manchester, 2001.

Magazines, etc.

I was a founding editor of Pick magazine in the 1970s and went on to be Poetry Editor of Quarto and The Literary Review in the 1980s. In 1993, with Jean Bleakney, I founded and edited a magazine based in Belfast, Brangle. Brangle ran successfully for three issues (the period of my Residency at Queen’s University). It was a compilation of prose and poetry designed to bring together voices from the different regions of the UK and the Republic of Ireland.

International Recognition

I have participated in poetry festivals in Wroclaw, Malmo, St Petersburg, Moscow, Belgrade, Toronto and New York, and in numerous festivals in the UK and Ireland, including the Cheltenham Festival and the Cuirt, Galway. My own work has been translated into Russian, Polish, French and Romanian.


The Alice Hunt Bartlett Award (joint-winner with Thomas McCarthy, 1981).
The Prudence Farmer Prize, 1982.
The Cholmondeley Award, 1987.
“Against Posterity” won First Prize in National Poetry Competition, BT section, 2001.
“The Submerged Cathedral” was shortlisted for the Forward Prize Best Single Poem, 2002.
“Baby, Baby, Baby” won First Prize in the Peterloo Poetry Competition, 2003.

Membership of Organisations and other Activities

I am an elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, a Member of the Society of Authors, a board-member of the Philip Larkin Society, and a judge of the annual Society of Authors Gregory Awards for poets under the age of thirty. I have taught for the Arvon Foundation and The Poetry School, and served as a mentor for Arvon-Jerwood. Under various Arts Council Schemes, I have supervised a number of young poets individually, including Rhian Gallagher (Canada), John Wedgwood-Clarke (Hull) and Maitreyabandhu (London).