The Poetics of the Archive: creative and community engagement with the Bloodaxe Archives


Principal Investigator: Professor Linda Anderson Newcastle University
Co-investigators: Professor W.N.Herbert, Newcastle University; Professor Jackie Kay, Newcastle University; Professor Sean O'Brien, Newcastle University; Dr David Kirk, Newcastle University; irene Brown, Newcastle University; Alan Turnbull, Newcastle University
Collaborators: Kate Sweeney, film-maker; Ollie Dawson, Director, Poetry School; Neil Astley, Editor, Bloodaxe Books; Richard Price, poet and editor; Alice Quinn, Executive Director, Poetry Society of America
Duration: From 2013 to 2015

The archive of Bloodaxe Books, newly acquired by Newcastle University, is one of the most extensive and significant poetry archives in the world. The challenge is to unlock its meaning and use by seeing it as more than a scholarly resource, accessible through standard search-based catalogue, and to allow more creative, open-ended and playful interactions with it. These interactions are made possible through a reframing of the traditional idea of an archive, by challenging the notion of search as simply objective and designing new kinds of we interface with the archive. Two research processes underpin the project. One brings together a number of community groups of poets and school groups, who will have access to the physical archive, and who will then participate in (1) producing creative responses to the archive and generating new materials (2) designing new digital interfaces which enable and follow their explorations and thinking about poetry. The second research process brings together a multidisciplinary group of researchers who can forge a new interdisciplinary framework for thinking about literary archives, and about the enabling of creativity through participatory workshops. The project draws on expertise from Computing Science, Archival Studies, English and Creative Writing and Fine Art.