Julia Malkin and Nick Everett led an interesting and very engaging Diversity Seminar on Tuesday 18 March for staff and students on the University’s doctoral programme in Clinical Psychology. Julia is preparing to submit a PhD in Creative Writing in the School of English and Nick is her supervisor.
Julia read us her wonderful poems, which really brought to life her experience as someone on the autistic spectrum in a way that books and academic articles on the subject often fail to do. She read a funny poem about the type of misunderstanding that can occur when you struggle as an autistic person to understand ambiguity and metaphor. Julia read sad and moving poems too, like the ones about her complex relationship with her father. The audience were particularly struck by a poem about her sense of the lack of recognition from him before he died.
Nick provided structure to the reading by asking Julia questions after each poem and discussing her creative development and what it had been like to experiment with poetic form as a way of exploring her experience as someone with autism. It was clear that presenting Julia with the challenge of trying all sorts of different types of form and metre had paid off, and it was interesting to learn that the pattern and discipline of poetic forms had obviously enabled her to express herself and understand her experience.
Many in the audience thought the poems were very direct and accessible. They could be a really useful resource for people on the autistic spectrum and those working with them, and Julia should definitely get them published!
Arabella Kurtz, March 21st 2014