Dr Vidyan Ravinthiran

Dr Vidyan Ravinthiran

Department of English Literature
Lecturer in North American Literature

Contact details

Ranging from the Long Eighteenth Century to the present day, I have a strong interest in the formal qualities of both verse and prose, and how they relate to history and thought. My next project is transatlantic and concerns ‘spontaneity and form’ in nineteenth and twentieth-century English and American prose. I am also interested in the Indian poet Arun Kolatkar, and am co-editor of the online magazine Prac Crit, which combines interviews with poets with close readings of individual lyrics. Here's 'Ginnel', which I wrote and performed on behalf of Radio Leeds for National Poetry Day; my verse can also be read on the Guardian website; and this is my latest essay (on Rae Armantrout) for Poetry.


  • DPhil (Oxon)
  • MPhil (Cam)
  • BA (Oxon)


I was born in Leeds – my parents are Tamils, from Sri Lanka – and studied at Oxford and Cambridge before taking up the Keasbey Research Fellowship at Selwyn College. I then taught at Durham University for three years before joining Birmingham.


Presently, I teach on Year 1 Poetry and Discovering American Literature.


I’m a critic, poet and novelist. My first book of poems, Grun-tu-molani (Bloodaxe, 2014), was shortlisted for a number of prizes, and poems towards my next collection, The Million-Petalled Flower of Being Here, won a Northern Writers Award this year. Elizabeth Bishop’s Prosaic (Bucknell UP, 2015), my study of that wonderfully gifted US poet, won both the University English First Book Prize and the Warren-Brooks Award for Outstanding Literary Criticism. I’ve written over forty pieces of literary journalism, including essays for Poetry, the LRB, the TLS, and the Indian magazine The Caravan; I’ve just begun reviewing fiction for the Telegraph, and am this year’s winner of Poetry’s Editors’ Prize for Reviewing.

I’ve just completed my first novel, Reincarnation, and am represented as an author of fiction by The Wylie Agency.



  • Elizabeth Bishop’s Prosaic (Lewisburg, PA: Bucknell University Press, 2015 / paperback release, July 2017); winner of the University English Prize, as well as the Warren-Brooks Award for Literary Criticism.
  • Grun-tu-molani (VERSE – Tarset: Bloodaxe, 2014); shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best First Collection, the Seamus Heaney Centre Prize for First Full Collection, and the Michael Murphy Memorial Prize.


  • ‘The nature of Englishness: the hybrid poetics of Ted Hughes’, in Ted Hughes, Nature and Culture, ed. Neil Roberts, Mark Wormald and Terry Gifford (contracted to Palgrave, forthcoming 2018).
  • ‘ “Manuelzinho”, Brazil and identity politics’, in Reading Elizabeth Bishop: An Edinburgh Companion, ed. Jonathan Ellis (contracted to Edinburgh UP, forthcoming 2018).
  • ‘T.S. Eliot’s Prose (Poetry)’, in Essays on the Prose Poem, ed. Jane Monson (contracted to Palgrave, forthcoming 2018)
  • ‘Nabokov and the Privilege of Style’, in Modernism and Close Reading, ed. David James (contracted to OUP; forthcoming 2018).
  • ‘“An undependable but sometimes marvellous thing”: Elizabeth Bishop, communication, and other people’, forthcoming in PN Review.
  • ‘”Dream” makes a giddy sound: 100 years of Gwendolyn Brooks’, The Poetry Review 107:2 (Summer 2017): 82-90.
  • ‘The Dread Ear’, review-essay of Stephen Burt and David Mikics (eds.), The Art of the Sonnet; and Ben Mazer (ed.), Selected Poems of Frederick Goddard Tuckerman in Essays in Criticism (2010) 60 (4): 375-83.
  • ‘The “Liquid Texture” of the Elgin Marbles: Hazlitt, Reynolds, and the Miltonic Sublime’, The Hazlitt Review, Vol. 2, 2009: 21-32.
  • ‘The Lonely Dream’ (Rae Armantrout), Poetry, Vol. 209, No. 5 (February 2017): 475-87.
  • ‘Race, Style, and the Soul of Saul Bellow’s Prose’, Essays in Criticism (2016) 66 (4): 488-517.
  • ‘Your Thorns Are the Best Part of You’ (Marianne Moore, Stevie Smith), Poetry, Vol. 209, No. 1 (October 2016): 83-103.
  • ‘Knowing and Unknowing’ (the Sri Lankan civil war), The Caravan (January 2016): 92-8.
  • ‘All the Animals in My Poems Go into the Ark’ (Silkin, Langley, Sisson), Poetry, Vol. 207, No. 4 (January 2016): 409-25.
  • ‘You Can’t Close Your Eyes For A Sec’ (A.K. Mehrotra), The Caravan (March 2015): 69-74.
  • ‘Stair Steps’ (Ana Blandiana), Edinburgh Review 140: 117-27.
  • ‘Arun Kolatkar’s Description of India’, The Journal of Commonwealth Literature (2014) 49 (3): 359-77.
  • ‘How James Wright Wasted His Life’, Literary Imagination (2014) 16 (1): 95-116.
  • ‘The Blank Verse Moo of Wallace Stevens’, Thinking Verse (2013) 3: 108-30.
  • ‘The Spontaneity of Hopkins’s Journal Prose’, The Review of English Studies (2013) 64 (267): 838-56.
  • ‘Poet and Critic’ (Ted Hughes), PN Review 210, Vol. 39, No. 4 (March-April 2013): 42-6.
  • ‘Kolatkar’s Spontaneity’, in Poetry and Voice: A Book of Essays, ed. Stephanie Norgate and Ellie Piddington (Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars, 2012): 89-103.
  • ‘Auden and Bishop: Another Look at “At The Fishhouses” ’, Notes and Queries, Vol. 58, No. 5 (December 2011): 597-603.
  • ‘Elizabeth Bishop and The New Yorker’PN Review 200, Vol. 37, No. 6 (June-July 2011): 49-52.
  • ‘Prose-rhythm and the aesthetic claim: a new reading of Elizabeth Bishop’s “Santarém” ’, US Studies Online, Issue 18, Spring 2011.
  • ‘Dante and Shelley’s terza rima’, Essays in Criticism (2011) 61 (2): 155-72.