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Meet the Writing Team

The Writing Team is comprised of lecturers in the English department with an interest in both critical and creative writing. These staff have worked to develop the undergraduate writing programme across the curriculum, help with postgraduate writing instruction, and plan special events and opportunities to develop your writing within the department.

JT Welsch 

JT is a Senior Lecturer in English Literature and the Creative Industries. His research focuses on modern and contemporary poetry, publishing, and the wider creative industries. His poetry books include Orchids (Salt, 2010), The Ruin (Annexe, 2015), Hell Creek Anthology (Sidekick, 2015), and various projects as co-director of the department's letterpress print studio, Thin Ice Press. He is also the co-editor of the anthology, Wretched Strangers: Borders Movement Homes (Boiler House, 2018) and the author of The Selling and Self-Regulation of Contemporary Poetry (Anthem, 2020). JT convenes a number of writing and publishing modules, including the Business of Books and Writing in the Marketplace. As director of the Centre for Modern Studies, he also convenes the MA in Culture and Thought After 1945. 

Juliana Mensah

Juliana is a Lecturer in Creative Writing. Her novel won the inaugural NorthBound Book Award and will be published by Saraband in 2021. Her short stories have been published and are forthcoming in edited collections including The Book of Newcastle (Comma Press, 2020), New Narratives for the North East (New Writing North, 2020), and Test Signal (Dead Ink and Bloomsbury, 2021). Juliana has written for theatre with a focus on human rights narratives and the experiences of survivors. Her plays include A Restless Place (Pilot Theatre, 2015); From the Sky to Your Hands (Live Theatre, 2017); the short play, ‘Portraits’, as part of Women Warriors (Workie Ticket Theatre, 2019); and Faster than Bolt, a work-in-progress which was shared at Live Theatre in Newcastle as part of its Elevator Festival in 2020. Her practice-led research spans prose, theatre, and participatory arts and is frequently engaged with issues of human rights and social justice. She is currently a co-investigator on the British Academy funded project, Verandah of Protection, led by Martin Jones and Dr Alice Nah at the Centre for Applied Human Rights. Juliana has a particular interest in literary activism, and she teaches on modules on contemporary literature, global literature, creative writing, and creative industries.

Sophie Coulombeau

Sophie is a Lecturer in Eighteenth-Century and Romantic Literature. Her specialisms include naming and identity, women's writing, and reading practices in the period 1760-1820. Her debut novel Rites was published in 2012. Since then she has written two further novels, the first a historical fiction set in 1790s London and the second a contemporary novel about motherhood and monstrosity set in present-day York. She has also had several short stories published. Sophie has written and presented programmes for BBC Radio 3 about marital naming, children’s names, children's literature, and eighteenth-century culture. She’s also devised and appeared on a six-part podcast series for The New Statesman: 'The Great Forgetting: Women Writers Before Austen', and has written for BBC Arts, the Guardian, the Independent and the Huffington Post.

Vahni Capildeo

Vahni is the departments Writer-in-Residence. Born in Port of Spain, Trinidad, Vahni earned their DPhil in Old Norse literature and translation theory as a Rhodes Scholar at Christ Church, University of Oxford. They are one of the most exciting contemporary poets, and highly influential as a writer, commentator, and performer. Capildeo’s poems engage themes of geographic, intimate, and linguistic distances and proximities. Their books include No Traveller Returns (2003), Utter (2013), Measures of Expatriation (2016), which won the 2016 Forward Prize for Best Collection, Venus as a Bear (2018), Skin Can Hold (2019), and Odyssey Calling (2020), a pamphlet written partly during a stormy night on Lindisfarne. Vahni works closely with students and staff in English, contributing in dynamic and innovative ways across our syllabus and offering students unrivalled opportunities to develop their creative writing and expression beyond the formal curriculum. They host varied and important speakers as part of our ‘Writers at York’ series, and work with students to create striking poetry performances for a wide public.

Penny Boxall

Penny is the department's Royal Literary Fund Fellow and an award-winning poet. Her first collection, Ship of the Line (Eyewear, 2014/Valley Press, 2018), is a cabinet of curiosities, reassembling historical lives from overlooked objects. It won the Edwin Morgan poetry award, Scotland’s largest poetry prize, in 2016. Who Goes There? followed from Valley Press in 2018. Again, historical eccentrics dominated, alongside a developing personal tone and a variety of narrative masks. Her current work, Lights Out, is more inward-searching still, marking a deepening interest in voice. It won awards from the Authors’ Foundation and New Writing North (2019). Penny’s latest project, A Book of Moss, is a narrative drawing on the life of Victorian botanist and moss expert Richard Spruce. It examines obsession and loneliness through a 19th-century lens.  Penny’s collaboration with woodblock artist Naoko Matsubara, In Praise of Hands, will be published by the Ashmolean. She has held a number of residencies, including a visiting research fellowship in the Creative Arts at Merton College, Oxford, and fellowships at Hawthornden Castle, Chateau de Lavigny and Cove Park. Her poem ‘A Wedding List’ won the 2018 Mslexia/PBS international women’s poetry competition.