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A Senior Lecturer at Leeds Trinity University has edited an anthology of original poetry featuring contributors from across the world after overcoming physical barriers during the coronavirus pandemic.

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Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing Dr Amina Alyal is one of three editors of Geography is Irrelevant: Poetry in Isolation, an anthology which celebrates international creative networks that have flourished using online technology. 

Dr Alyal runs Leeds Trinity’s monthly Wordspace open mic night, which she established in 2015 to encourage creatives from the North of England to come together and share their prose, poetry, comedy and music in a friendly and supportive environment at The Hop Shack in Horsforth. Since moving online in April 2020, the event has been joined by readers and audience members from the US, Canada, Australia, the Philippines, Greece, Gaza, Israel, the Netherlands, Italy, France, New Zealand, India, Ireland and the UK. 

With other online writing and performance events experiencing the same growth, Dr Alyal joined with her co-editors, Raef Boylan of Fire & Dust in Coventry and Rose Drew of Spoken Word in York, to celebrate this burgeoning international community of writers and share their experiences of lockdown. Works in the anthology also reflect on the Black Lives Matter movement and the protests that took place in the US in May 2020. 

Dr Alyal said: “In a year when Black Lives Matter invites us to consider our practices, I’m very proud that this anthology includes a good proportion of BAME writers, and several of the poems consider BLM centrally. This is just one of the ways in which we can connect globally and share perspectives that make for a more cohesive future.” 

Professor Oz Hardwick, Principal Lecturer in English at Leeds Trinity, said: “This project, born out of necessity, actually gets to the heart of what we do as writers, as facilitators of writing, and as a University; that is, opening ourselves up without prejudice to other voices, to take pleasure and intellectual sustenance in them, and to engage in meaningful creative dialogue with them.”

Geography is Irrelevant: Poetry in Isolation is available to purchase online from Stairwell Books, RRP £8.00. For more information about upcoming Wordspace events, visit the Facebook page.

Categories: English and Creative Writing

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