Rona Cran


Accepting PhD Students

PhD projects

I welcome research proposals on American poetry, New York City literature and culture (particularly the New York School, Nuyorican poetry, queer writing, and/or HIV/AIDS), collage, and other aspects of literature and culture relating to my research.


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Personal profile

Research interests

My scholarship centres on the literature and culture of New York City, queer writing, and modern American poetry.

My first book was entitled Collage in Twentieth-Century Art, Literature, and Culture: Joseph Cornell, William Burroughs, Frank O’Hara, and Bob Dylan (Ashgate, 2014). Exploring the influence of Europe’s artist-émigrés on New York City culture from 1912 onwards, it argued that collage was both a transformative practice and a provocative theoretical model that was central to modernism and its aftermaths, revolutionizing the ways in which literature was written and art and music was made during the twentieth century.

I am currently writing my second monograph, Everyday Rebellion: New York City Poetry After 1950 (under contract to Louisiana State University Press, 2025).  Everyday Rebellion asks: how can poetic forms challenge structural oppression? How does poetry engage with forms of discrimination? To what extent can poets change the world through language? Taking as its exemplars a range of poetry published in New York between 1950-1995, it explores the possibilities and parameters of poetic resistance. In doing so, it both offers a comprehensive study of New York’s poetry and poetic voices, and illuminates the quiet heroism and long history of hopeful struggle inherent in dissident poems and voices, providing a contemporary model for everyday rebellion, dissident reading, and alternate world-building in the 21st century.

I am also the editor, with Yasmine Shamma, of Synchronous Fireflies: Conversations with New York School Poets (under contract with Edinburgh University Press, 2023).

My first poetry collection, a lyric memoir about my sister, called I Remember Kim, was published in 2023, with Verve Poetry Press.

In 2020 I was awarded an AHRC Research Networking Grant for the project Creating the Network for New York School Studies. The project has created an official global Network designed to offer scholars, poets, creative organizations, and members of the public an intellectual and creative community within the wide and growing field of New York School studies. In 2018 I was awarded a British Academy Small Grant (2018-2020) for the digital humanities project Joe Brainard and the New York School: Material Texts and Digital Cultures (or 'Make Your Own Brainard'), which has put the work of New York School artist and poet Joe Brainard into dialogue with digital media and digital media users via an interactive website ( and examines questions about hegemonic narratives surrounding academic impact, funding for the arts, and the digital humanities.

I have written articles and chapters (forthcoming and published) on John Ashbery's queer poetics of the HIV/AIDS crisis, Black queer kinship and the poetry of the HIV/AIDS pandemic, teaching Bernadette Mayer, teaching the mimeograph revolution, the ecopoetics of Anne Waldman's Life Notes, Joe Brainard and queer optimismNew York poetry, American women poet-editors and the mimeograph revolution, Joe Brainard and John AshberyAllen Ginsberg and Frank O’HaraAllen Ginsberg and collageplace, space and identity in Richard Yates, William Burroughs, affect, and taste, and William Burroughs and art.


I am a Londoner who grew up in Kenya. I joined Birmingham as a Teaching Fellow in 2015, and as a Lecturer in 2016, where I have broadened the teaching of modern American poetic texts and contexts. I became Associate Professor in 2021. I previously taught at University College London, where I received my PhD, and I also spent several years working in student support and in the educational charity sector. 

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities


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