Creative Dissertation Corner with Courtney Wakelin: Identity and Defining beauty

In this creative dissertation corner Courtney Wakelin tells us about her project about identity and defining beauty through creative writing

What is your dissertation about?

Identity and defining beauty

How did you choose the texts for the project?

I brainstormed everything I wanted to look at and found ways into which I could research and create ways to highlight the aspects I was interested in in new ways.

Has your dissertation changed much since submitting your proposal?

Yes, editing has made me refine what I wanted to say and sculpt the piece into a far more meaningful account.

What interests you about this topic?

The subjectivity of both beauty and identity. In reality there are so many layers to each and so many ways that a person can be presented and viewed from another that I just find really fascinating because when looking at others the voyeurs inner prejudice/views will sculpt a particular reading of the one observed which may be a very good study of them but could also be very far from the truth.

What have you enjoyed most and what have you struggled most with?

I enjoyed reading around the topics I am studying. I always look for intertextual reference to add into my piece to add layers however this is also my downfall because my piece is a novel and  the word count only allows for a small portion of all that I have researched to be put in. I struggle with not overloading however, edits allow me to refine and steal sections to add later, so it is not all for nought.

What has it been like working closely with an academic supervisor?

Brilliant. My supervisor really keeps me on focus and allows me to bounce ideas about my piece around. Similarly she supplies me with new ways to look at my own work because she is objective where as often I find myself too close and I must tell myself to step away from the text and adapt for the larger scale.

University Mental Health Day Poetry

For University Mental Health Day we have a poem from Lucy Pettigrew about her own mental illness experience and recovery.

I Wrote a Book About Sadness

I am no longer trailing fingers on empty rib cages like I used to be,

I’m no longer as afraid to take up space in a warm room.

I’m now the warm room.


I don’t have secrets living in my stomach anymore,

just good meals and laughter.


All I saw was thigh gaps,


carrots for lunch

and walking and walking,

so much walking, so

much hungry.


I am now the name my parents gave me and

so much more.

I’m the current in the sea,

nostalgia tasting like summertime strawberries.

I’m the beat of the bass

and the feeling of finishing a book you invested emotion in, we

close the pages on the sadness and

return it to the shelf.

I am.

[Creative Dissertation Corner] with Hannah Petch: Climate Change Poetry

In this [creative dissertation corner] Hannah Petch tells us about her project discussing whether poetry can create social change

What is your dissertation about?

I am writing a collection of original poetry around the theme of climate change and alongside that, I am discussing whether poetry/literature really has any power/impact in creating social change.

How did you choose the texts for the project?

Some of my texts are scientific/academic but a really important part of my research process has been reading other contemporary poets, I think it’s really important that I’m up to date with the current conversation poets are currently having.

Has your dissertation changed much since submitting your proposal?

My poems have certainly developed since submitting my proposal, the thing about writing about a topic like climate change is that things are constantly changing and my poems have to change alongside that.

What interests you about this topic?

I love writing poems as I feel they can convey certain themes/motifs that other forms can’t. I’m also hugely passionate about the environment and trying to do everything we can to protect it.

What have you enjoyed most and what have you struggled most with?

I’ve really enjoyed the scientific research – more than I thought I would – I’ve struggled a bit to find contemporary poems that discuss climate change but that has just confirmed my belief that this sort of poetry needs to be written.

What has it been like working closely with an academic supervisor?

It’s been really great working with Rebecca Tamás, she has a published poetry collection so I feel really secure under her supervision, she knows exactly what current publishers are looking for when it comes to poetry and we share the same interest in the environment and climate change so it’s been really good.

BlogCast Diary!

The BlogCast team behind the Beyond the Walls Anthology have started a BlogCast diary, explaining the process of publishing an anthology, as well as the hard work needed in order to hold a finished copy in their hands.

Date: 11/2/20

Dear Diary,

Over the last two weeks, York St John’s current second year students have been exposed to the action-packed module of Publishing, Production and Performance; introducing them to the world of publishing.

The first week was an introduction to the module where in which the purpose was revealed: to create the latest instalment of Beyond the Walls, 2020 edition. From then on, the three teams were established, and the students chose their desired team, ready to take on the tasks ahead.

Over the rest of the first week and into the second week, each team had discussed their specific goals and the collective goals of all groups where they would need to coincide with one another. All the teams were able to decide on sub-teams to be able to bring more focus to the project. During the first week, the Editing Team created a poll to choose theme to make it fair on everyone; the results came down to three choices. It was in the second week where the Editing Team announced the theme for this year’s edition; Contemporary Change. Now the official work could begin!

With the announcement of the theme, the BlogCast and Marketing Teams could begin marketing and raising awareness of the book. This will be through blog posts, podcasts and the social media pages that the Marketing Team will co-create. The Editing team could begin the call for submissions, which began on the 8thof February, and will end on the 6th of March.

Week three was the week everything was set in stone and the ball started rolling. The leader of the Editing Team made the decision to extend the call for submissions to the literature, art and drama departments. Their strategy for the editing process once all the submissions are in, is to have a one week turnaround to choose which submissions will be moving forward to publication where the editors will work in pairs to ensure a more thorough edit.

The Marketing Team came up with ten events that will be commencing during the Literature festival which includes a Harry Potter quiz; this alone will draw people to the festival. Over the next few days, the Marketing Team plan to promote the festival using social media outlets and various promotional outlets through the university. They will be following a marketing plan that involves marketing two events per week up until and throughout the festival.

The Blog and Podcast team also began their strategizing processes. Like the other two teams, the BlogCast team also split themselves into two sub-teams so that there was more focus. Both sub-teams began to delegate specific roles within the groups so that it would be fair, and everyone can put effort into the project. Both sub-teams began to discuss what pieces would be posted on both platforms, which were pieces on; the theme, on the Literature festival, on the progress of the module and the teams etc. The podcast team in particular have the challenge of finding the equipment for both the podcast and the video that will be created during the Student Showcase. They have also brainstormed what they would be discussing during the podcasts and when they would be posted. The showcase was also discussed, but no final decisions have been made as of yet.

As the module goes on, everything will be finalised and lead to a fantastic event that all students will be proud of!

Until next time,

The BlogCast Team!


Beyond the Walls 2020: Call for Contributions on Contemporary Change

The blog and podcast team behind the Beyond the Walls anthology have written a piece on what they are looking for in their submissions. They also share some tips on which themes you can choose to write about.

We are excited to announce that the theme for the 2020 edition of the Beyond the Walls anthology is *drumroll please* – Contemporary Change!

The call for submissions has gone out, and the Editing Team are eagerly awaiting this year’s submissions to come flooding in.

But what exactly is contemporary change? Well it is quite simply change that has occurred or is occurring in the present day. There are lots of possible options to write about. Change is such a varied and wide topic, that there are bound to be plenty of subjects written about in this year’s anthology. But if you’re feeling a bit stuck, here are a few possible ideas.

As students, we are currently undergoing a considerable change. Going from being a teenager to an adult is no small matter. During our time at university we have to learn how to live independently, find housing, pay bills, vote, and so many other things that are crucial to adult life. University is also a great time to explore who you are. The newfound freedom of not living with your parents can lead to finding new hobbies, making new friends, changing your appearance, and so much more. By the time we leave uni, we will all have changed and grown significantly.

But this year’s theme isn’t just about personal change. Our country is undergoing a huge change at the moment thanks to Brexit. As of the 31st January we are now no longer part of the EU. Whether you are pro-Remain, pro-leave, or you’ve reached the point where if you hear another thing about Brexit you’re going to scream, it is undeniable that the whole thing is going to lead to a great many changes in our country.

Another change that is dominating the news at the moment is the issues surrounding Climate Change. With movements such as the Extinction Rebellion, and Fridays for Future, this issue has never been more present in the media. Plus, with the world’s scientists setting a deadline of 2030 to radically change the levels of carbon dioxide in our environment before irreversible damage is done, not to mention all the plastic pollution choking our oceans, now is a very good time to write about this issue.

And with all this in mind, I leave you with this quote from William H. Gass:

The true alchemists do not change lead into gold; they change the world into words.

Submission guidelines can be found here, together with the closing date.

Author: Olivia Fyfe

LGBT History Month York Screening!

Image result for tell it to the bees

The exciting LGBT History Month York program is out now, and you can find the link to the program here –

On page 25 you’ll find the details of a special screening of the film ‘Tell it to the Bees,’ with a Q and A from acclaimed author Fiona Shaw. This event takes place on Wednesday the 4th of March, from 18.30-21.00, at the York City Screen Picturehouse. The link to purchase tickets is here:

This beautiful and affecting story is one not to miss! 



Poetry Competition Opportunity for Students!

Dial-a-Poem Competition 2020!

Dial-a-Poem, a new nationwide student poetry competition, is now open for entries for telephonic poems competing for a chance to win up to £500 in National Book Tokens and publication.

In partnership with Nottingham Trent University, the Arts and Humanities Research Council, the BT Archives and the Science Museum, and judged by award-winning poet Jane McKie, the competition calls out for poems which – directly or indirectly – engage with the idea of calling.

The original Dial-a-Poem was launched by the late John Giorno fifty years ago, and the service – via which users called in to hear recordings of work by essential and provocative poets of the time – will be reconfigured in the digital age by way of a mobile app for launch in 2020. Winners of the Dial-a-Poem competition will be offered the chance to record their poem for the Dial-a-Poem app and a sound installation in the City of Nottingham, joining a roster of celebrated international poets.

Deadline for entries is 10 February 2020.–5_OPaRDx1GpLB7husK7hLvGd2RJ1kWESwJm5O_BZgptowFFnKdtoeIQ1r8sSWNOXqigMjpdExmCpOnpsLebkRegIJcg2Y_Ul03Ic6iqkQ


An exciting event for those who love spoken word, don’t miss out! Details below.

Say Owt Slam #24
February 1st 2019
The City Screen Basement

Poets have three minutes to impress the audience and win a cash prize. Highly Commended in the York Culture Awards, Say Owt Slam is an exciting and raw mixing pot of spoken word. Plus
guest poet Lisette Auton, an award-winning disabled writer and performer. LIsette is one of Penguin Random House UK’s WriteNow mentees for her children’s novel based on the North East coast. All of her work seeks to make the invisible visible.

Winter Lights

Guest writer Alfie Edge gives us a Christmas poem for this festive season.

Turn on the winter lights,

To guide through afternoon shadows.

Crunching feet in pillow snow

passing steamed pub windows.


Underneath winter lights,

Innocence illuminated

the blurred buzz of mistletoe risk;

My heart, Lord’s a leaping.


Tell the warm winter lights:

to bury my heart in Christmas

and melt the cold earth around,

Until next year, my love.