Metal Bird

Harrison, Helen (2022) Metal Bird. PhD thesis, UNSPECIFIED.

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This PhD is weighted 80/20 between creative/critical approaches. The major, creative element (my ‘research as practice’) is comprised of a sequence of poems that explore and shape my experiences and memories of the city of my birth, Liverpool, and function like hanging ‘terrariums’: clear globes containing themes of nostalgia, alienation, displacement, history, and enchantment with the city. The critical element comprises of a braided essay that attempts a dynamic reflection on this sequence of poems. It does this by situating focused reflections alongside the work (and my reading) of other poets associated with the city. If our sense of place is in part created by ongoing imaginative and artistic engagements, then the essay attempts to find intersections between Liverpool as a place described and imagined by other poets alongside my own experiences and memories. The reading of other poets is a facilitator: they open dynamic spaces for my poems to react and rebound off and provide an invitation to respond to Liverpool as a poet. Research has involved exploring experiential, emotional, and familial connections, and so ‘dynamic reflection’ here also means the interweaving of a series of prose vignettes into the essay. I have avoided a more traditional academic critical discourse to foreground the interplay between memory, reading and experience, and to privilege the emergent, dynamic space of the poem, where these elements merge, combine, or collide to find a formal shape. Constructing this relationship between the Liverpool (or Liverpools) of poets and my own re-encounter with the city attempts to engender an echoing effect, a space where a ‘Liverpool of the self’ might be revealed and explored. The act of physically wandering city streets formed an ongoing process of discovery (or re-discovery) through thinking about place critically, reflectively, and imaginatively. In doing so, the poems mobilise ideas of leaving and migration, of the longing for escape, and of homecomings; how the idea of ‘home’ is adjusted or recalibrated, and what that idea might mean (if anything) to me.

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Thesis (PhD)
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14 Sep 2022 11:15
Last Modified:
12 Sep 2023 00:53