culture + environment creating health + wellbeing engaged research

Laura Warner

PhD Student, WCCEH

About me

I completed my BA (Hons) in English Literature and Creative Writing at the University of Kent before undertaking a PGCE. I then spent ten years working in education in various roles from classroom teacher to course designer. In 2020, I was awarded my MA in Creative Writing by the University of Exeter. My dissertation project Reading Men; Writing as a Woman focussed on presentations of the female body in John Updike’s Rabbit, Run, while my creative portfolio comprised a poetic response to a re-reading of Updike’s novel in the context of 21st Century intersectional feminist discussions.  

My career highlights to date  

Whilst working in Education, I was fortunate to teach at a number of schools in a variety of different roles – most memorably as a Special Educational Needs Coordinator and a 1:1 reading teacher. In both of these roles, I was able to support children as they learned how to overcome specific barriers to their learning. It was during this time that I began to understand the potential of the arts in facilitating meaningful change for people facing a variety of challenges.  

During my MA, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to work with poet Fiona Benson and researchers from the College of Life and Environmental Sciences at Exeter as part of the project In the Company of Insects. My poem ‘Changeover’ – inspired by observations of the process of cell division in fruit fly embryos – is featured in the public anthology Insect Love Songs.   

In 2021, I was able to combine my skills as an educator and poet, facilitating a series of creative workshops for Parkinson’s patients and researchers. The project, a collaboration between Cambridge Stem Cell Institute and Parkinson’s UK, gave people living with Parkinson’s and those researching the condition the opportunity to explore and share their experiences using poetry.  

My Project at WCCEH  

The 2020 report published by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Endometriosis indicates that understanding lived experience of endometriosis is key to improving the lives of those with the condition – an estimated 1.5 million people in the UK. My project, Uterine Poetics, will employ poetry as a methodology for analysing and presenting qualitative data on lived experience of endometriosis. Using the approaches of poetic inquiry and collaborative poetics, I will work with participants who are living with the condition to explore their experiences and to create poetry that communicates those experiences to a reader in a way that honours the speaker’s voice. As some of those most adversely affected by endometriosis are members of the LGBTQ+ community and/or are Black, Asian or of minority ethnicity groups, Uterine Poetics will prioritise the objective of amplifying marginalised voices.