NiTRO Creative Matters

Perspectives on creative arts in higher education

‘Where a language is opening’

BY SUSIE CAMPBELL – Before an unexpected brush with serious illness, the journey of my PhD research project seemed clear. I set out to engage with the avant-garde Modernist poetry of Gertrude Stein in order to draw on her experimental approach to language for my own processual model of poetic practice.

My initial approach was primarily linguistic and formal, using my own creative practice as a research tool to explore the textual mechanics and possibilities of my theoretical findings. My actual projects came out of my engagement with some problematic local and personal histories, attempting to challenge and subvert static and totalised ideas about place and identity. One of these projects engages with archaeology in the reconstruction of a Saxon burial ground and the other with a remaking of the self (selves) confined within a reductive diagnostic language. The former explores a processual understanding of place, the latter a processual and plural idea of the self. However, the unexpected interruption of my research by serious illness and (successful) surgery fundamentally changed my approach and impacted my creative outcomes. By allowing the affect and bodily experience of this crisis to open up gaps and unravelled edges in my projects, my creative practice expanded, becoming more inclusive and multi-modal. My findings became open-ended and uncertain but more embodied and also more generative. 

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Susie Campbell holds a PhD in poetic practice from Oxford Brookes University. Her poetry publications include I return to you (2019), Tenter (2020), Enclosures (2021) and The Sleeping Place (2023). Her poetry and critical writing have appeared in poetry journals such as Poetry Review, Long Poem Magazine, Shearsman, and Axon Journal; and in anthologies including The Book of Penteract (2022) and Seeing in Tongues (2023). As well as text poetry, she makes visual, sound and textile poetry. Her sound collaboration with poet Chris Kerr was the inaugural publication for Angry Starlings Imprint, 2023 and her poetry film Wound premiered at Runnymede Lit Fest in 2024.

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BY Carina Böhm, Didem Caia, Clare Carlin, Emilie Collyer, Ruth Fogarty
BY JOSHUA IP – The interrogation of practice is a common task faced by practice-based researchers. As a PhD candidate the Practice Research Symposium programme in the School of Media and Communications at RMIT, focusing on the discipline of Creative Writing, I have attempted to interrogate my wide-ranging practice as poet, editor and literary organiser for the past six years.
BY ANNE M. CARSON – Disrupting, interrupting and sometimes derailing study in both welcome and unwelcome ways; life gets into PhD projects in a plethora of ways, so much so that there often seems to be no hard boundary between them. This essay uses the example of synchronicity as one way that ‘life gets in’.
BY PATRICIA AMORIM — In my Palimpsest Series, I explore cultural identity from a feminist perspective through self-portraiture, drawing inspiration from the concept of a palimpsest and the work of Cuban artist Ana Mendieta.
BY JENNY HEDLEY – In this reflective essay, a time-poor single mother and PhD candidate accidentally takes on the role of basketball coach as she seeks to achieve balance between scholastics and life.
BY MICHAEL DONEMAN – Between is a reflection on loss and renewal. It interweaves personal, cultural, and environmental stories near the country where I live, by a waterway at the edge of the Boondall Wetlands called Cabbage Tree Creek.
BY CLAIRE WELLESLEY-SMITH – The use of textile as a creative recording method alongside my PhD (2023, The Open University) extended a practice I began in 2013. Stitch Journal is a long length of linen cloth, pieces added in sections.
BY EMILY WOTHERSPOON – This piece is a reflection on how life, research, and creative practice become blurred and intertwined through the process of undertaking PhD creative writing practice research.
BY DANI NETHERCLIFT – This work, in alignment with the topic of my creative arts PhD regarding the elegiac lyric essay, is written with the conventions of the lyric essay, utilising white space, non-linearity, image, archive, fragment, association and braiding.
BY INDYANA HOROBIN – This is a short experimental article that engages with how life subsists within PhD study. It is styled as an interview with the self and is punctuated by interactions between the interviewers which descend into hostile conversations.
BY JENNY HICKINBOTHAM – Life didn’t GET IN to my PhD research, my life IS my PhD research.
BY KENDREA RHODES – This work is an audiovisual expression of the messiness of being me. A visual artist, a writer, doctoral researcher, and a psychiatric survivor.
BY ISABELLA G. MEAD – This creative response to ‘How Life Gets In’ details my experience maintaining a creative practice while also being a PhD candidate and a parent to young children.
BY LAINIE ANDERSON – Life didn’t get in the way of my PhD. Death did. Or more specifically, it was South Australia’s Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill (2020).
BY DANTE DeBONO – ‘Degrees of separation’ is a reflective consideration of the ways in which creators navigate the complexity of their internal writing processes as unique configurations of their lived experiences.