Ben Egerton

Ben’s thesis will illuminate aspects of religious faith and doubt, through the poetry of Symmons Roberts and a complementary collection of his own new work.

Commenced 2017

Ben is a writer and teacher from Wellington. His poems, and other writing (mostly about education), have appeared in print and online in New Zealand, Australia and the United Kingdom in such diverse places as Landfall, Education Review, broadsheet, Turbine / Kapohau, Cordite Poetry Review, the Times Education Supplement, and others. Originally from the west of England, he studied for a BA (Hons) in Music and Politics, before training as an English teacher. He taught in and around Oxford, England, for eleven years before being offered a teaching job in Wellington, New Zealand.

Ben completed the MA in Creative Writing at the IIML in 2014 before returning, once more, to the classroom. Ben also works part time teaching a postgraduate course for teachers in digital and collaborative learning - considering new pedagogies for the 21st century classroom

Ben writes: 'My research centres around a volume of poems, Drysalter, by the English poet Michael Symmons Roberts. I am interested in looking at the collection as both a reinterpretation of the Psalms for a post-secular age and audience, as well as examining how Drysalter is influenced by them. I am contextualising the work of Symmons Roberts within the broader scope of contemporary religious (Christian) poetry and exploring challenges of language, theme, symbol, form and biblical allusion these poems and poets have now there is a loss, or lessening, of a common religious (or cultural) currency. Symmons Roberts, David Jones, TS Eliot and others have all raised this same question: How can contemporary poets explore religious faith in a secularised language and culture?

'At the heart of my critical thesis will be an examination of Symmons Roberts' Drsysalter to see how he has answered that very question - how successful is his collection in exploring, illuminating and explaining aspects of religious faith and doubt?

'My own collection of poetry will explore similar territory. And of it and myself, I will ask the same question: how can I, as a poet, write about my own faith, doubt, action, inaction, belief and disbelief - along with all the other questions I have? I am particularly interested in poetic form, so I aim for my poetry to explore (and explode) the, perhaps liberating, constraints of a set form and poetic set pieces.'

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