Leeds Trinity Professor gathers 60 award-winning poets to write about different art forms

Oz Hardwick, Professor of Creative Writing at Leeds Trinity University, invited 60 acclaimed poets from around the world to write in response to different art forms, including film and video games, for a unique anthology that has just been published.

Dancing About Architecture, co-edited by Professor Oz Hardwick and Professor Cassandra Atherton, Associate Head of School at Deakin University, encourages readers to reflect on how different art forms enable creativity and individuality. The works focus on the process of ekphrasis, which means writing about art, a topic of interest for Professor Hardwick and Professor Atherton. Their research on ekphrasis aims to explore how writers are inspired by rapidly changing ideas of what ‘art’ is. 

The anthology gathers the work of 60 poets from around the world, who wrote in response to paintings, sculptures, films, music and video games, while also explaining their process. Contributors include 2020 Hawthornden Prize winner John McCullough, multiple T.S. Eliot Prize shortlist Pascale Petit and BartWolffe Prize winner Leo Boix.  

Professor Oz Hardwick said: “When thinking about art, many of us may picture something in a gallery, quite remote, or even separated from our lives. But the growth of digital media has enabled us to engage with art more closely, and in different ways, than we ever have before, as well as leading to whole new art forms. 

“It is now a good time, then, to invite poets to write in response to art works of their choice, from a pop music video to an abstract sculpture. The results have been both enjoyable and thought-provoking, both as poetry, but also in a wider consideration of the way we navigate our increasingly image-saturated world.” 

Professor Cassandra Atherton said: “I jumped at the chance to edit an international anthology with Oz Hardwick. He’s an eminent, prolific and exciting poet with an incredible generosity of spirit.  Ekphrastic poetry is having a renaissance and this anthology publishes some of the greatest poets alongside fascinating practitioner statements.  

“This anthology breaks new ground as it showcases the diversity of writing poetry about art and challenges historically narrow interpretations of ekphrasis as writing about canonical painting and sculpture. Dancing About Architecture is a brilliant resource for scholars but also an inspiring read for people who love great poetry.” 

Professor Oz Hardwick’s poem was inspired by Electronic No 1, a short passage of electronic sound from Hawkwind’s 1973 Space Ritual live album, while Professor Cassandra Atherton brings together the film Hiroshima Mon Amour (1959) and the gin still in the Sakurao distillery in Hiroshima and engages with expressions of intimacy and impermanence. A notable contribution comes from poet Ruth Stacey, who took inspiration from The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, reimagining the dual experience of being the player as well as the character in the game. 

The anthology will officially launch at an international symposium held in Leeds on Saturday 6 July. Delegates will hear from poets, scholars and artists from around the world on the role of art in inspiring poetry throughout time.  

Tickets are on sale for the symposium and can be booked via the Leeds Trinity University website

Leeds Trinity is one of four Catholic universities across England & Wales.