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Shefali Banerji, M.A. – Doctoral Researcher

As a PhD researcher, my work focuses on the British Spoken Word Play. I completed my MA in English at the University of Calcutta, specialising in Postcolonial Studies, following which I also engaged in doctoral-level research on British-Caribbean literatures at Trinity College Dublin. My passion for poetry has always informed my academic work, such that my undergraduate dissertation focused on the poetry of Ted Hughes and D. H. Lawrence and my most recent publication studies the debut poetry collections of Ocean Vuong and Fatimah Asghar. I am also a published poet active in the Indian spoken word scene which underpins my interest in exploring the transnational influences of the British spoken word movement.

Dr. Rachel Bolle-Debessay – Postdoctoral Researcher

My PoP research explores the aesthetics and the politics of performed poetry, with a focus on Black British expressive forms emerging from transnational and diasporic circulations. As a musician, I am particularly interested in poetic traditions that operate in the proximity of the literate frame provided by the words, and the non-verbal space created by the music. My PhD, received from King’s College, London, used an interdisciplinary approach between music, literature and performance studies to examine artistic characteristics that have made dub poetry an innovative form. Entitled ‘Dub poetry: A study beyond predefined interpretations’, my dissertation offered new frameworks to analyse the aesthetic of dub poetry, while also providing theoretical tools for further studies on poetry influenced by and performed with music. In the echo of my academic research and interests, I have been working on different socially engaged cultural projects to promote diversity, intercultural dialogues and exchanges within cultural institutions. I was awarded the Essay Prize 2022 of Wasafiri Magazine for my analysis of a theatrical-driven aesthetic in the poetry of Mikey Smith.

Marie Krebs, BA – Student Assistant

I am a student at the University of Vienna in Anglophone Literary and Cultural Studies as well as Theatre, Film, and Media Studies. Parallel to my work for PoP, I teach student tutorials on the topics of grammar, literary studies, as well as cultural and literary theory. My own research focusses primarily on the politics of anglophone genre cinema, television, and fiction. In my work for Poetry Off the Page, I provide administrative support and assist in literary and cultural research.

© Elisabeth Gierschele


Ass.-Prof. Dr. Julia Lajta-Novak – Principal Investigator

I hold a tenure-track professorship for Anglophone Literature and Mediality at the University of Vienna. I am the author of Gemeinsam Lesen (2007 – a book on reading groups) and Live Poetry: An Integrated Approach to Poetry in Performance (2011). I am an editor of the European Journal of Life Writing and have published extensively on biographical fictions about women artists. My (co-) edited books and journal issues include a special issue of Zeitschrift für Anglistik und Amerikanistik on Poetry and Performance (2016), a special issue of Life Writing on the theme of “Life Writing and Celebrity” (2019), the collection Experiments in Life-Writing (2017), and a special issue of the European Journal of Life-Writing about “Women’s Lives on Screen” (2021).

© ÖAW Daniel Hinterramskogler

Mag. Claire Palzer – Doctoral Researcher

I am a PhD researcher at the University of Vienna, focused on Irish spoken-word poetry as part of the “Poetry off the Page” project. My passion for Irish literature and cultural studies was cemented during my year abroad at University College Dublin. This served as the foundation for my diploma thesis on Irish women’s fiction and the 1916 Easter Rising, for which I received the Excellence Award of the Department of English and American Studies in Vienna. I am myself a published poet who has performed in the Irish poetry scene and I also studied women slam poets intensively during my degree.


Prof. Dr. Martina Pfeiler – Research Associate

From 2021 to 2024, I was PoP’s senior researcher and Vice-PI. Now, I am a professor of Anglophone Cultural and Literary Studies at the University of Education in Upper Austria as well as a senior postdoctoral researcher in the American Studies section at the University of Vienna. I remain a part of the PoP team as a research associate. Within Poetry Off the Page, my focus is on poetry slam, and I am currently writing a chapter on the Roundhouse Poetry Slam Final in 2022. I have a forthcoming article on “Slam/Performance Poetry” for Handbuch Literatur und Performance (De Gruyter 2024). Specializing in anglophone Spoken Word Poetry, I am the author of Sounds of Poetry: Contemporary American Performance Poets (2003) and Poetry Goes Intermedia: U.S.-amerikanische Lyrik des 20. und 20. Jahrhunderts aus kultur-und medienwissenschaftlicher Perspektive (2010). While living in Germany, I co-edited Pott Meets Poetry. Die erste illustrierte Poetry Slam-Anthology des Ruhrgebiets (2014) with Minu Hedayati-Aliabadi. In 2017 I received the venia legendi in American Literature and Cultural Studies at TU Dortmund with a Habilitation-thesis titled Ahab in Love: The Creative Reception of Moby-Dick in Popular Culture. For more infos about my teaching and research background, please see

© Wilke

Dr. Helen Thomas – Postdoctoral Researcher.

I am a poet, author and researcher whose work focuses primarily upon Black British writing, history and culture, and the medical humanities. After completing a BA in English Literature and American Studies, I received a DPhil in Literature from Oxford University. I am the author of Romanticism and Slave Narratives: Transatlantic Testimonies (Cambridge University Press, 2000) and other critical works including Caryl Phillips (2004), Malady and Mortality: Illness, Disease and Death in Literary Culture (2016) and a free 500-page book entitled Black Agents Provocateurs: 250 Years of Black British Writing, History and the Law, 1770-2020 (2020). In 2022, I published 1562, a volume of poetry voicing the fictional lives of 6 black women from 6 ports in C16th Britain. In 2022, my semi-autobiographical poetic / dance play, Salve, was showcased at the Theatre Royal Plymouth and in 2023, my historical poetic drama was longlisted by the RSC’s 37 Plays Competition.

Russell Thompson – Liaison Archivist, Apples & Snakes

I have had several layers of involvement with live poetry over the years. I spent a decade as London programmer for Apples and Snakes, followed by two years coordinating their archive project and helping to build their Spoken Word Archive website. As a practitioner of the artform myself – performing as Rachel Pantechnicon and one half of Project Adorno – I have taken a dozen shows to the Edinburgh Fringe, and my CV includes appearances at Glastonbury, WOMAD and Latitude. I juggle my PoP work with a complementary (and equally fascinating) job at the National Poetry Library in London.


Former Members:

Franziska Klein, BSc, BA – Research Intern (2021)

I am currently doing a Research Masters at the University of Maastricht and am supporting the PoP team as a research intern. Throughout my Research Master program, I have focused on the intersection of arts, culture, and technology. I am interested in how new forms of (social) media and technology are influencing spoken word poetry and identity politics in poetry performance. With an interdisciplinary background in American Studies and Biology, I am excited to see how different fields of study will come together to form a theoretical framework for poetry performance research.

Dr. Shalini Sengupta – Postdoctoral Researcher (2022-2023)

My PoP research explores intersections between literary and avant-garde performance traditions in the UK. I received my PhD from the University of Sussex, UK, and was fully funded by the Chancellor’s International Research Scholarship. My doctoral work looked at the aesthetics and politics of ‘difficulty’ in modernist and avant-garde women’s poetry, shedding light on little-discussed British poets like Anna Mendelssohn, Geraldine Monk, and Bhanu Kapil. In 2021, I was nominated for the Adam Weiler Doctoral Impact Award at Sussex, where my dissertation earned honourable mention. I’m a Ledbury Poetry Critic and have published work in modernism/modernity; Poetry Book Society; Poetry Wales; Journal of British and Irish Innovative Poetry; Contemporary Women’s Writing; and The Bloomsbury Companion to Contemporary Poetry in Ireland and the UK. Dr. Shalini Sengupta has now moved on to become a lecturer at Newcastle University.

Dr. Emily Kate Timms – Postdoctoral Researcher (2021-2023)

My PoP research explores the aesthetics and politics of Black British spoken word. I received my PhD from the University of Leeds and my thesis investigates the intersections of Postcolonial Studies and Age Studies. I have published work in the Journal of Postcolonial Writing, Moving Worlds, and Essays & Studies and was an Editorial Assistant for Moving Worlds and Stand. During my studies I conducted archival research in Aotearoa New Zealand and completed a placement on developing a festival archive for NGC Bocas Lit Fest, Trinidad and Tobago. My undergraduate work on the AHRC ‘Leeds Poetry 1950-1980’ archive won the Edward Boyle Award and my MA dissertation analyses British ‘little’ poetry magazine culture. I won a University of Leeds Partnership Award for organizing the Poetry and Audience 60th Anniversary exhibition and poetry slam. Dr. Emily Kate Timms has moved on to become a lecturer at the University of Lincoln.

Poetry Off the Page - Team photograph
PoP Team | © Elisabeth Girschele, Oct 2021