Mariah Whelan is the inaugural Jacqueline Bardsley Poet-in-Residence at Homerton College.
The position is generously funded by Dr Norman Bardsley, in memory of his wife, Jacqueline, who attended Homerton from 1960-62. Mrs Bardsley, who died last year, was a lifelong writer and lover of poetry and was actively involved in several poetry societies near her home in California.
The Poet-in-Residence is intended to enable Homerton to foster a culture of poetry among its students and alumni, an ambition which correlates directly with Mariah’s previous experience. Currently completing her PhD at the University of Manchester, and the author of two published collections of poetry, she is also the former Director of the Oxford Writer’s House, which brings diverse communities together through writing. Mariah is a member of Truth Tellers, an interdisciplinary collective that brings together Arts and International Relations methodologies to explore questions of identity in contemporary Britain.
Mariah plans a threefold approach: writing new poetry for the college in collaboration with students and staff, teaching and bringing in contemporary poets to give readings, and conducting research. She describes her approach to writing as “very interactive” and aims to either run a three-day residency focused on creating new work while engaging with students or a digital takeover depending on COVID restrictions.
A Homerton Wood
In early 2021, with many of us confined to our homes and the Homerton community scattered across the globe, staff, students, alumni and the fellowship came together to write a poem. Using the ghazal form, which traces its origins back to 7th Century Arabic poetry, each poet wrote a couplet that responds to one of Homerton's beautiful trees. Assembled together as a digital poem, the text represents just one of the many ways that Homertonians have worked to stay connected during these strange times.