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Poet and rapper Mark Grist.

Hosted by the University’s Department of English, the Glyn Turton lectures honour Professor Glyn Turton, the respected scholar, former Head of English, Dean of Arts and Humanities, and Senior Pro Vice-Chancellor at the University.

Previous speakers have included one of Britain’s most distinguished contemporary writers, Simon Armitage, and the Bard of Barnsley, Ian McMillan.

In a departure from the literary backgrounds of previous guests, poet and rapper Mark Grist's credentials walk the line between viral pop culture and poetic literary merit.

Based in Peterborough, Mark studied American and English Literature at the University of East Anglia (UEA), before entering into the teaching profession. He later left his job as a teacher to become a full-time poet, forming a double act entitled ‘Dead Poets’ which went on to tour the UK to great acclaim.

Organiser Dr Richard Leahy, who is a Lecturer in the Department of English, booked Mark after discovering his viral 'teacher vs student' rap battle (gaining over six million views), which led to an awareness of his poetry and award-winning live shows.

Mark has had over 30 million views of his poetry online, and has worked for The Royal Institute, Channel 4 and Google. In 2018 he fronted ‘Mark Grist Battles the World’, a Red Bull-funded documentary which led to him travelling to the Philippines to explore their culture of performance poetry and battle rap.

He has received glowing reviews of his live talks and shows. His Edinburgh Fringe shows have been awarded four and five star reviews from The Guardian and The Independent amongst others.

Mark’s work can predominantly be found online, although his first published collection, Rogue Teacher (2015) can be purchased from all good retailers.

Delivering a talk entitled 'How rap battles have ruined my life', Mark will be discussing his path from teacher to full-time poet, and the importance of risk-taking and moving out of comfort zones in achieving these goals. The audience can expect a blend of comedy, performance poetry and biography in Mark's lecture.

Dr Richard Leahy said: “Mark is a talented poet and performer, who is not afraid of both bringing originality to the field of poetry, but also paying respect to those who came before him. He is truly a modern poet, using the internet to disseminate his work and connect with other like-minded literature lovers. He'll be bringing his witty and engaging style to a talk which will cover areas such as (but not limited to) his progression to full-time poet; convincing his mother-in-law that it is an entirely valid profession; touring the graves of Dead Poets; and finding inspiration in his pet pug.”

‘Mark Grist: How rap battles have ruined my life’ takes place on Thursday, May 9, between 6pm and 7pm, at the Beswick Building Lecture Theatre on the University’s Parkgate Road Campus.

This is a free event but booking is essential. Places can be booked online or by contacting:

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