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Inaugural Lecture: 'Exploring medieval writing through practice'

Lecture Theatre 003

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'And this happened and this happened': Exploring medieval writing through practice

Medieval literature has been a perennial source of material and inspiration for modern writers. Often this has involved adapting medieval content into modern forms, but what happens when we engage with medieval forms on their own terms? 

In a stimulating lecture, Professor Tony Williams asks the question: how can the contemporary writer expand and develop their practice by learning from medieval texts?

About the Speaker

Professor Tony Williams is a poet and fiction writer. His practice research into the forms and techniques of medieval writing produced two novels, Nutcase (2017), an adaptation of the Icelandic saga of Grettir the Strong into a contemporary setting, and most recently Cole the Magnificent (2023), a picaresque which draws on a range of medieval forms and the ‘mixed modality’ of saga narrative in which the real and the fantastical coexist. His poetry collection Hawthorn City (2019) also engages with medieval material while continuing the interest in landscape and the contemporary pastoral developed in his earlier collections.

His poetry has been shortlisted for the Aldeburgh First Collection Prize, the Portico Prize for Literature and the Michael Murphy Memorial Prize. His flash fiction collection All the Bananas I’ve Never Eaten (2012) won Best Short Story Collection in the 2013 Saboteur Awards, and the visual sonnet sequence All the Rooms of Uncle’s Head (2011) was the Poetry Book Society’s Pamphlet Choice. He has also published critically on the reflective component of creative writing research and on the filmpoem.

He is currently a Co-I on the AHRC-funded project ‘Ephemera and writing about war, 1914 to the present’ for which he is writing a literary fantasy novel which continues his longstanding interest in Outsider Art and the visionary as well as themes of incarceration, trauma and containment. His current work in poetry explores via the discursive mode as a means of thinking about art and perception. He also works with Professor Billy Clark on the pragmatics of creative writing.

Event Details

Lecture Theatre 003
Business & Law Building, Northumbria University
City Campus East
Newcastle upon Tyne
NE1 8ST


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