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The role of poetry writing and engagement with poetry, in both established and emerging forms, in supporting the mental health and well-being of young people

   School of Social Sciences

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  Dr Sue Dymoke, Dr Verusca Calabria  No more applications being accepted  Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

The dramatic rise in young people’s mental health issues been highlighted during the Covid-19 pandemic (Fruehwirth, Biswas and Perreira 2021). The positive relationship between participation in creative arts-based activities and mental well-being in young people has also been an increasing focus of research over the last decade (e.g. Zarobe and Bungay 2017). The importance of and need to identify creative outlets for young people’s self-expression is therefore of growing concern.


Young Poets’ Stories (Dymoke and Wilson research project in progress) includes longitudinal research with 30 young poets in the UK and internationally about their poetry development. It is revealing the significant role that poetry writing has to play in enabling young people to make sense of the world around them and to explore their feelings in safe spaces. This project leads on from previous theoretical work exploring why poetry matters and poetry writing as a socially contextualised process (Wilson and Dymoke 2017; Dymoke et al 2013/15) and empirical work exploring the significant impact of a spoken word programme in developing young people’s confidence and voice (Dymoke 2017).

The proposed studentship would build on the Young Poets’ Stories research to investigate more broadly the various ways in which young people are being enabled to use and create poetry to support their own mental health and well-being. Proposals for qualitative studies, particularly those using collaborative and creative research methods such as poetic enquiry, graphic or photo elicitation would be welcomed. The studentship research could focus on young people’s engagement with Spoken Word, page poetry, Found poetry, Instagram poetry or other emerging forms. Additionally, it could investigate the perceptions and practices of primary and secondary teachers in promoting poetry as a an aid to young people’s well-being. The exact nature of focus and research questions would be negotiated with the successful applicant. This studentship could make a significant contribution to the research literature in this field and inform current policy and practice in supporting young people’s self-expression and personal development.

Potential research questions:

·        How do young people engage with poetry to support better mental health and well-being?

·        How has writing, performing and/or listening to poetry enabled young people to explore their own feelings and improve their mental health and well-being.

·        How are teachers and workshop leaders using poetry to support young people’s mental health and well-being both within school and in out of school community contexts?


The vision of the Institute of Education at NTU is to be a distinctive world-class provider of teacher education and the study of education, rooted in and serving communities and families and founded in partnerships which are research-based and student-centred.

This project aligns with the work of the Research Centre Nottingham Centre for Children, Young People and Families (NCCYPF) and with the School strategic research priority Health and Well Being

Specific qualifications/subject areas required of the applicants for this project

Entrants should normally hold a first or upper second class honours degree of a UK university or an equivalent qualification, or a lower second class honours degree with a master’s degree at Merit level (or equivalent) of a UK university or an equivalent qualification. 

An applicant not meeting the certificated requirement may be considered on merit and in relation to the nature and scope of the proposed programme of study. Applicants are considered against evidence of ability and background knowledge in relation to the proposed research. Professional experience, publications, written reports or other appropriate evidence of accomplishment are taken into consideration. 

Interview details

Interviews will take place on the following dates: 

Between 9th July – 15th August 2022.


Dymoke, S. (2017) 'Poetry is not a special club': how has an introduction to the secondary Discourse of Spoken Word made poetry a memorable experience for young people?, Oxford Review of Education. 43 (2) 225 241. http://www.tandfonline.com/eprint/cZgsSJR2eCAf7WzygpF6/full
Dymoke, S, Lambirth, A. and Wlison, A. (2013). Making Poetry Matter: International Research on Poetry Pedagogy. London: Bloomsbury.
Dymoke, S., Barrs, M., Lambirth, A. and Wlison, A.(2015). Making Poetry Happen: Transforming the Poetry Classroom. London: Bloomsbury.
Fruehwirth, J.C., Biswas, S.and Perreira, K.M.(2021) The Covid-19 pandemic and mental healthof first-year college students: Examining the effect of Covid-19 stressors using longitudinal data. PLoS
ONE 16(3): e0247999. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0247999
Wilson, A. and Dymoke, S. (2017) Towards a model of poetry writing development as a socially contextualised process, Journal of Writing Research. 9 ( 2), 127-150 View | https://doi.org/10.17239/jowr-2017.09.02.02
Zarobe, L., & Bungay, H. (2017). The role of art activities in developing resilience and mental wellbeing in children and young people a rapid review of the literature. Perspectives in Public Health. https://doi.org/10.1177/1757913917712283.

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