The British Archive for Contemporary Writing, based in UEA Library, has announced the appointment of a new Visiting Poetry Fellow, Will Harris.
Harris will join Justine Mann, BACW Archivist, and Jeremy Noel-Tod (LDC), BACW Academic Director, as part of the project team pioneering a new centre for study and research into contemporary poetry at UEA, which has been funded by the Mellon Foundation until the end of 2023.
Harris is a rising star of contemporary British poetry. His debut poetry book, RENDANG (2020), was published in both the UK and the US, and shortlisted for the T.S. Eliot Prize for Poetry and won the Forward Prize for Best First Collection. His second collection, Brother Poem, will be published by Granta in 2023. He has also written a book-length essay, Mixed-Race Superman (2018), reflecting on his experience of growing up with Chinese Indonesian and British heritage.
Harris has also taught in schools, led workshops, collaborated with artists and edited poetry magazines. In Spring 2022, he was a Burgess Fellow at the University of Manchester’s Centre for New Writing.
As Visiting Poetry Fellow, Harris will be responsible for co-ordinating four other poets’ involvement with the curation of their own archives and the project’s creative approach to public-facing activities. He will also will co-chair a specialist Advisory Group and be involved in publishing research about the project’s findings.
Jeremy Noel-Tod, BACW Academic Director, said: ‘I’ve long admired Will Harris’s work, and I’m delighted he will be joining this groundbreaking project from the very start. His writing has excited readers on both sides of the Atlantic, and he brings a unique range of experience as a teacher, editor and mentor that will be crucial to involving other writers creatively in the project.’
The project, entitled ‘New Ways of Collecting, Collaborating and Curating: Towards a Centre for Contemporary Poetry in the Archive’, is a joint initiative between UEA, the National Centre for Writing and Norfolk County Council Library and Information Service. The Centre will be based within the BACW, and will promote and preserve the archives of contemporary poets of colour, LGBTQ+ poets and writers from other historically underrepresented backgrounds and practices in the UK and Ireland.
The collaboration will promote a community-led approach, with workshops that will encourage people of all ages to get involved in shaping the archives of living poets, as well as having the opportunity to write poetry themselves. The archives collected will be a mix of physical and digital material.
A selection of archive material will be showcased online, and all of it will be made available in UEA Library to students, teachers, researchers and the visiting public.