School of English

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Image of Vicky Sparrow

Vicky Sparrow

Assistant Professor in Literature, Faculty of Arts



PhD, Birkbeck, University of London; MA, Birkbeck; MA (Cantab.), University of Cambridge.

I am a Teaching Associate in Creative Writing, specialising in poetry.

Prior to joining the School of English at the University of Nottingham, I taught Creative Writing and English Literature at Birkbeck and Queen Mary, both University of London, at undergraduate and postgraduate levels.

After completing my PhD, I was a Wellcome Trust ISSF Postdoctoral Research Fellow at Birkbeck.

My collection Notes to Selves (2016) is published by Zarf Editions; I have published poetry in over twenty other publications and have performed my work at multiple readings nationally and internationally.

Expertise Summary

My research and teaching centres around modernist and contemporary writing, with a focus on experimental poetry and women's writing. I am committed to interdisciplinary and practice-based research, and my work includes poetry, creative-critical writing, reviews and scholarly articles, in addition to teaching and organising events.

I am broadly interested in how experimental poetic practice might interact with, interrupt, or intervene in wider social structures. As such, my research and writing has touched upon the following fields: creative-critical thinking, political aesthetics, critical legal studies, psychoanalysis and medical humanities.

I am a poetry editor for the new writing magazine Zarf, and I serve as reviews editor for the Journal of British and Irish Innovative Poetry; I am also co-editing a Special Collection for this journal on the poetry of Anna Mendelssohn.


I have organised three conferences in the field of contemporary writing. The first, organised with Gareth Farmer, was held at Birkbeck in 2014 and considered the work of contemporary poet and academic, Andrea Brady. The second, organised with Eleanor Careless in 2017 at the University of Sussex, focussed on the work of Anna Mendelssohn, and concluded with a performance evening. The most recent was a Wellcome Trust funded symposium on Experimental Poetry and Therapy, at Birkbeck in 2019.

Teaching Summary

I teach or have taught the following modules:

Studying Literature (UG 1st Year)

Creative Writing Practice (UG 1st Year)

Academic Community (UG 1st Year)

Poetry: Forms and Conventions (UG 2nd Year)

Advanced Writing Practice: Poetry (UG 3rd Year)

Creative Writing Conventions and Techniques (MA)

Writing Workshop: Poetry (MA)

Practice and Practitioners (MA)

I also supervise third-year and MA-level dissertations in poetry, and I currently convene Poetry: Forms and Conventions and Practice and Practitioners.

Research Summary

My current poetic project, Poems for Pearl, is an extended sequence that meditates on the ethical claims of the history of poetry, using the medieval manuscript poem Perle as its main source text. I… read more

Current Research

My current poetic project, Poems for Pearl, is an extended sequence that meditates on the ethical claims of the history of poetry, using the medieval manuscript poem Perle as its main source text. I have read sections of this work-in-progress at events around the country, including at the Sussex Poetry Festival in Brighton and Manchester's The Other Room reading series, and aim to publish it next year.

I was recently invited to give a talk at the Nottingham Contemporary linking the poetry of Anna Mendelssohn with the gallery's exhibition on contemporary video-artist, Lis Rhodes. This was part of the AHRC-funded leadership project, Voices in the Gallery.

I am a current member of the Nottingham Trent based Critical Poetics Research Group.

Past Research

My AHRC-funded PhD focussed on the British-Jewish poet and activist Anna Mendelssohn (1948-2009), and explored concepts of law and legality within her writing. Mendelssohn settled in Cambridge where she wrote and published experimental poetry, after serving time in Holloway Prison for her connections with the anticapitalist activist group, The Angry Brigade. My project mobilised archival work, critical theory, poetics and critical legal studies, to argue that Mendelssohn's poetic mode sought to generate its own measure of justice. My 2018 peer-reviewed article in the Journal of British and Irish Innovative Poetry developed from my PhD research.

My debut collection of poetry, Notes to Selves (Glasgow: Zarf Editions, 2016) was written concurrently with my thesis, and picks up questions of language and articulation within politically constrained circumstances. The work is a free-verse sequence of poems that deploys formal experiments to explore themes around political commitment and linguistic subjecthood.

I have a recent article in the Law, Literature and Psychoanalysis Special Issue of the Open Library of the Humanities Journal. This peer-reveiwed article explores the concept of denial in the modernist writer HD's poetry and in her prose account of her analysis with Freud. It reads ideas of denial in the context of the censorship trials brought against literary modernism at the time - especially the Little Review trial - in order to trace connections between literary, legal and psychoanalytic conceptualisations of statement and denial.

Future Research

I intend to write both a poetic sequence and a scholarly article that considers the possible therapeutic work of experimental writing. This will utilise recent research I have undertaken for a symposium on Therapy and Experimental Poetry that I organised at Birkbeck in 2019, which was funded by the Wellcome Trust.

I will soon be preparing my PhD thesis for submission to publishers as an academic monograph, with the intention of publishing in 2023.

School of English

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