Ms Karen McCarthy Woolf

Supervised by

  • Jo Shapcott First/primary/lead supervisor


Personal profile


Born in London to an English mother and Jamaican father Karen McCarthy Woolf is the recipient of the Kate Betts Memorial Prize and an Arts and Humanities Research Council scholarship from Royal Holloway where she is a PhD candidate exploring ecological poetry and hybrid literary forms.

Karen has taught creative writing widely, notably at the Southbank Centre, Photographers’ Gallery and the environmental arts organisation Cape Farewell. She is the editor of three anthologies, most recently Ten: The New Wave (Bloodaxe, 2014). Her poetry is published by Poems on the Underground and  the US journal Prairie Schooner as well as Poetry London, Poetry Review and Modern Poetry in Translation, all journals for which she also reviews.

Karen's collection of elegies An Aviary of Small Birds is published by Oxford/Carcanet in October 2014.

Research interests

Karen's thesis title is One Plus One Equals Three: Towards a Sacred Hybridity in Contemporary Ecopoetry. At the heart of the research is a bid to dvelop a theory of sacred hybridity that synthesizes an emotional authenticity usually associated with lyric poetry, a commitment to the politics of ecological witness and an engagement with form and hybrid and collaborative practice that is experimental, innovative or playful. 



Karen has extensive experience of teaching poetry and creative writing and has run courses and worked with the following literature, arts and education organisations:

  • Cape Farewell
  • City Lit
  • English PEN
  • The Poetry School
  • The Poetry Society
  • Southbank Centre
  • Spread the Word



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