On 17 November, the Queer London Research Forum, based at the University of Westminster, hosted a successful ‘Coming Out In/To Poetry’ event including a talk from renowned Professor Stephen Guy-Bray.

The Queer London Research Forum, co-directed by English Literature Senior Lecturer Dr Kate M. Graham and Nineteenth-Century Literature Reader Dr Simon Avery, aims to facilitate interdisciplinary discussion on various aspects of queer London, from the nineteenth century to present.

By bringing together academics, practitioners, students and those with an interest in queer issues more generally, the Forum seeks to encourage dialogue and debate about the range of London’s queer lives and experiences.

On 17 November, the Forum invited renowned Professor Stephen Guy-Bray (cover picture), specialist in Renaissance poetry and queer theory, to explore two 20th century poems, ‘Diré cómo nacisteis’ from Luis Cernuda and ‘A Valediction Forbidding Mourning’ from Adrienne Rich, as well as one 21st century poem entitled ‘Someday I’ll Love Ocean Vuong’ and written by Ocean Vuong.

Coming out stories, often seen as personal and individual, can also be considered as part of a vast communal project, and for poets, as a specifically literary project. Professor Guy-Bray’s talk attempted to explore how some poets have considered coming out simultaneously personal and public.

Dr Kate M. Graham, Co-director of the Queer London Research Forum, said about the event: “Stephen's talk brought together a broad range of poets - including Luis Cernuda, Adrienne Rich and Ocean Vuong - and energetically put them into dialogue with each other.

“In doing so, he offered an insightful reading of the relationship between textuality and the individual - but also deeply political - process of coming out. Stephen's talk was a lovely combination of the rigorous and the accessible, which meant everybody present, from our undergraduates to the professors, was really engaged.”

The University of Westminster constantly endeavours to respect and value diversity within its communities of staff, students and alumni, to promote equality of opportunity, and to challenge and strive to eliminate unlawful discrimination.

Find out more about the Queer London Research Forum based at the University of Westminster.

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