Curriculum Vitae

Sally-Shakti Willow is a poet and performer.  She has a PhD in utopian poetics from the University of Westminster. 


My PhD thesis examines Theresa Hak Kyung Cha’s DICTEE (1982), Audience Distant Relative (1977) and Reveillé dans la Brume (Awakened in the Mist) (1977). The premise of the thesis is an exploration of the various ways in which these works both perform and gesture toward the possibility of a ‘utopian’ experience of nonalienation. In Cha’s vocabulary, this takes the form of ‘interfusion’ and is related to the role of the artist as alchemist. Cha employs formal and linguistic innovations in her text, mail art and performance works to invite active participation from her readers and audience in a gesture toward embodied intersubjectivity. Her grappling with the challenges relating to the articulation of subjectivity place her work at the centre of contemporary critical debates around subjectivity and innovative poetics. In particular, recent scholarship on race and the poetic avant-garde has called for cross-disciplinary approaches to reading DICTEE as a text that explores the intersections of subjectivity and its performance in contemporary innovative poetics. Developing a theory of Utopian Poetics from my reading of Ernst Bloch’s utopian philosophy, I explore the ways in which DICTEE and Cha’s other works perform a yearning for non-alienated subjectivity that remains necessarily open and incomplete.

My reading of DICTEE, in particular, is primarily informed by my own practices of yoga and meditation, and these practices form the basis of both my scholarly and creative engagements with this research. Th scholarly thesis comprises Part 1 of a two-part submission. Part 2 comprises my own creative experiments with UtopianPoetics.

Read my full doctoral thesis here

Poetry Publications

Leela in Lockdown – downloadable e-book from Pamenar Press exploring themes & practices of freedom within constraint (May 2021)

Writing Utopia 2020 – an anthology of Utopian Poetics co-edited by Sally-Shakti Willow and Sarer Scotthorne, Hesterglock Press (June 2020)

youthful folly – poem published in Pendemic (May 2020)

[un].holy : 33 sonnets for Brigid – experimental sonnet collection Hesterglock Press (February 2020)

six sonnets from [un].holy : 33 sonnets for Brigid – published in Datableed, Issue 12 (September 2019)

macrofigurative – poem + video published in para.text issue 7 (August 2019).  (Video collaboration with Joe Evans)

True Rune, Crystal Poem #1 & Crystal Poem #2 – three poems published in  the Inaugural Magickal Women Conference Programme, London (June 2019)

ATHA – experimental poetry collection, Knives Forks and Spoons Press (May 2019)

paperw[eigh]t & ‘somewhere. That’ – two poems published in Original Plus Dub anthology, Hesterglock/Prote(x)st (May 2019)

Writing Utopia Now – multi-modal poem-essay-manifesto published in the Utopian Acts Special Issue of Studies in Arts and Humanities Journal, May 2019

radical doula – poem published in Rise Up & Repeal anthology, Sad Press (May 2019)

Three Yoga Poems (Pranayama, Mudra, B&ha) – three poems published in Burning House Press, November 2018

folding in – visual poem published in The Projectionist’s Playground 8, 2018

Tat Twam Asi In Other Words – two poems on display at Blackpool Illuminations: Knives Forks and Spoons Press, 2018

[&howto-] – poem published in The Projectionist’s Playground 6, 2018

Guided Meditation: for Maggie O’Sullivan – poem published in Adjacent Pineapple 2, 2017

windfarm turning – poem published in The Projectionist’s Playground 4, 2017

infinite imperative – poem published in Zarf 10, 2017

The Unfinished Dream – collaborative chapbook with visual artist Joe Evans, Sad Press, 2016

Straif – poem published in the Nous Sommes Paris anthology, Eyewear Publishing, 2016

Contemporary Literature Reviews

Review of Why I’m No Longer Talking To White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge –for The Northern Review, August 2018 

See all my reviews of innovative new literature & other articles for The Contemporary Small Press here.

Academic Publications


Writing Utopia Now – multi-modal poem-essay-manifesto published in the Utopian Acts Special Issue of Studies in Arts and Humanities Journal, May 2019

ReviewPoetry and Performance During the British Poetry Revival 1960–1980: Event and Effect by Juha Virtanen (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2017) – Academic book review, published in the Journal of British and Irish Innovative Poets (10[1]), June 2018

Seminars and Conferences

Wellbeing When Writing – Presentation at the UKCGE Supporting Mental Health & Wellbeing During the Doctoral Writing Process Conference, University of Westminster, February 2020.

Panel Chair at the Therapy & Experimental Poetry Symposium, Birkbeck University of London, September 2019

‘Writing Utopia Now’, a poetry performance and manifesto of Utopian Poetics at the Extraordinary & Everyday Utopias conference hosted by the University of Brighton, July 2019

Panel host for the Women and Literature panel at the Inaugural Magickal Women Conference, London, June 2019

Wellbeing When Writing: An Interventions Programme for Tackling Mental Health and Wellbeing Issues Arising from the Doctoral Writing Process – Presentation at the UKCGE First International Conference on the Mental Health & Wellbeing of Postgraduate Researchers, Brighton, May 2019.

‘The Utopian Poetics of Gesture & Embodiment in the Work of Theresa Hak Kyung Cha’ – Critical paper and poetry reading at the English, Linguistics and Cultural Studies Research Seminar, University of Westminster, December 2017, on the theme of ‘Bodies in Women’s Experimental Writing’

‘Utopian Poetics in Theresa Hak Kung Cha’s Dictee: A Korean American Between the Beats and Language Poetry’ – Critical paper and poetry reading at the Centre for Contemporary Poetry (ContemPo), University of Brighton, November 2017

Funding and Awards:

University of Westminster PhD Studentship 2015-2018

Faculty Research Funding £900 for research trip to Berkeley Art Museum & Pacific Film Archive to access the Theresa Hak Kyung Cha archive, April 2017

Globally Engaged Research Scholarship £1000 for Naropa Summer Writing Programme, Naropa University, Boulder, Colorado, Summer 2018

Faculty Research Funding £300 towards Naropa Summer Writing Programme, Naropa University, Boulder, Colorado, Summer 2018

Teaching Experience

2020 – Present: Writing & Thriving in Higher Education – Doctoral Thesis Writing Workshops for Researchers in UK Universities

2020 – Present: Writing & Thriving Coaching

2018 – 2019: Writing the City, Reflective Writing and Independent Writing Project– Level 4, 5 and 6 teaching on the Creative Writing BA at the University of Westminster

2018 – Present: Wellbeing When Writing– postgraduate workshops using Creative Writing pedagogy to support Doctoral Researchers in all disciplines, University of Westminster

2018 – Present: Community Teaching Assistant for ModPo– online mentor for the open-access Modern and Contemporary American Poetry course run by the University of Pennsylvania

2017-2018: Independent Writing Project– supervisor for Level 6 Creative Writing independent writing project (poetry), University of Westminster

Spring 2017: Other Worlds: Fantastic Narratives– Level 6 module examining utopian and fantasy fiction, University of Westminster

2015-2016: Introduction to Literary Studies – Level 4 study skills tutorials, University of Westminster

I have been a fully qualified Teacher of English since 2005, teaching in UK secondary schools until 2014.

Professional Associations

  • Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy
  • Member of the National Association of Writers in Education
  • Member of Lapidus International: Where Words & Wellness Meet

The Contemporary Small Press

From 2015 to 2018 I was the research assistant for the Contemporary Small Press project co-ordinated by Leigh Wilson and Georgina Colby for the Institute of Modern and Contemporary Culture at the University of Westminster.  My responsibilities included: liaising with small press publishers, writers, and readers; researching, writing and publishing articles on the Contemporary Small Press website; editing and publishing reviews of small press titles by a pool of voluntary reviewers; maintaining public contact via the website and social media accounts; publicising and promoting the range of events organised by the project; and analysing the project’s impact.

Republic of Consciousness Prize

The Republic of Consciousness Prize was established in 2016 by novelist Neil Griffiths to acknowledge and reward the work of British and Irish small presses in publishing innovative and daring new literary fiction.  It is supported by the Times Literary Supplement.  In 2017 I was on the judging panel for the prize, which included reading a wide range of submissions and liaising with the other judges to establish the long list, short list and prize winner.


PhD Utopian Poetics, University of Westminster (2020)

MA Creative and Critical Writing, University of Sussex (2015)

Qualified Teacher Status – Teacher of English (2005)

BA (Hons) English and American Literature, University of Kent (2002)

Further Information