Dr Rona Cran BA, MA, PhD

Photograph of Dr Rona Cran

Department of English Literature
Associate Professor in Twentieth-Century American Literature
Co-Director of the Centre for the Study of North America

Contact details

Room 403, Arts Building
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

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


  • BA (University of York)
  • MA (University College London)
  • PhD (University College London)
  • Fellow of the Higher Education Academy


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. 


This year, I'm convening and teaching my final-year and MA specialist subject modules 'Multiple Voices: New York City Poetics' and 'Modern American Poetry'. I also contribute lectures to 'Gender and Sexuality' and 'Discovering North American Literature', and teach on the MA module 'Modernism and Contemporary Literature'. I was the 2020/21 winner of the Guild Outstanding Teaching Award.

Postgraduate supervision

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.

Find out more - our PhD English Literature  page has information about doctoral research at the University of Birmingham.


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 (www.makeyourownbrainard.com) 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.

Other activities

I co-direct the Centre for the Study of North America. I also write for the Times Literary Supplement, and am a member of the European Beat Studies Network (EBSN), the Modern Language Association (MLA), and the British Association for American Studies (BAAS). Recent and forthcoming events I’ve curated include:


Highlight publications

Cran, R 2014, Collage in Twentieth-Century Art, Literature, and Culture: Joseph Cornell, William Burroughs, Frank O'Hara, and Bob Dylan. Ashgate. <https://www.routledge.com/Collage-in-Twentieth-Century-Art-Literature-and-Culture-Joseph-Cornell/Cran/p/book/9781138743335>

Cran, R 2023, I Remember Kim: a memoir of grief. Verve Poetry Press. <https://vervepoetrypress.com/product/rona-cran-i-remember-kim-pre-order-out-june-23/>

Cran, R 2023, '“the fabric of human life”: Teaching Bernadette Mayer' The Poetry Project Newsletter, no. 272, pp. 21-21. <https://www.poetryproject.org/publications/newsletter/272-spring-2023-for-bernadette-mayer/the-fabric-of-human-life-teaching-bernadette-mayer>

Cran, R 2023, 'New York City Poetics and the Idea of the Mimeograph Revolution: Reflections on Teaching', Post-45. <https://post45.org/2023/06/new-york-city-poetics-and-the-idea-of-the-mimeograph-revolution-reflections-on-teaching/>

Cran, R 2022, '‘too beautiful’: useless art and the queerly optimistic Make Your Own Brainard Project', Digital Scholarship in the Humanities, vol. 37, no. 1, pp. 51-66. https://doi.org/10.1093/llc/fqab021

Recent publications


Cran, R 2024, '“Somewhere listening for my name”: Black Queer Kinship and the Poetry of the HIV/AIDS Pandemic', American Literary History, vol. 36, no. 1, pp. 161-186. https://doi.org/10.1093/alh/ajad226

Cran, R 2021, 'Poems in the world: the ecopoetics of Anne Waldman’s Life Notes', Humanities , vol. 10, no. 1, 50. https://doi.org/10.3390/h10010050

Cran, R 2020, 'Space occupied: women poet-editors and the mimeograph revolution in mid-century New York City', Journal of American Studies. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0021875820001073

Chapter (peer-reviewed)

Cran, R 2021, Mess, taste, and gastric criticism: digesting Naked Lunch. in SE Gontarski (ed.), Burroughs Unbound: William S Burroughs and the Performance of Writing. 1 edn, Bloomsbury Publishing. <https://www.bloomsbury.com/uk/burroughs-unbound-9781501362187>

Cran, R 2020, Multiple voices: New York City poetry. in R Wilson (ed.), New York: a literary history. vol. 1, Cambridge University Press, United Kingdom, pp. 180-193. https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108557139

Cran, R 2019, "Men with a pair of scissors": Joe Brainard and John Ashbery’s Eclecticism. in Y Shamma (ed.), Joe Brainard's Art. Edinburgh University Press.

Book/Film/Article review

Cran, R 2023, 'How the World Ends: On Lindsay Turner’s “The Upstate”' Los Angeles Review of Books. <https://lareviewofbooks.org/article/how-the-world-ends-on-lindsay-turners-the-upstate/>

Cran, R 2023, '“rage & love”: on Patricia Spears Jones’s The Beloved Community' The Brooklyn Rail. <https://brooklynrail.org/2023/12/poetry/rage-love-on-Patricia-Spears-Joness-The-Beloved-Community>

Cran, R 2021, 'Benjamin Lee, Poetics of Emergence: Affect and History in Postwar Experimental Poetry (Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 2020, $85.00). Pp. 190. ISBN 978 1 6093 8697 9', Journal of American Studies, vol. 55, no. 5, pp. 1238-1239. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0021875821000992

Cran, R 2021, 'Hilarious and strange: Putting the work of Dennis Cooper in its colourful context' TLS - The Times Literary Supplement, vol. 2021, no. February 5th. <https://www.the-tls.co.uk/articles/dennis-cooper-wrong-diarmuid-hester-review-rona-cran/>

Cran, R 2020, 'Another world, in this one: Teju Cole's Switzerland', Journal of American Studies, vol. 54, no. 4, E44. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0021875820000894

Cran, R 2020, 'Review: Interviews from the Edge: 50 Years of Conversations about Writing and Resistance. Ed. by Mark Yakitch and John Biguenet (New York and London: Bloomsbury, 2019).', Modern Language Review, vol. 115, no. 3.

Cran, R 2019, 'Review: the Spiritual Imagination of the Beats by John David Calonne', Modern Language Review, vol. 114, no. 1, pp. 135-137.

Other contribution

Cran, R 2020, ‘Safe in your thoughtful arms': the radical friendship of Frank O’Hara and Allen Ginsberg. History Workshop Online. <https://www.historyworkshop.org.uk/safe-in-your-thoughtful-arms-the-radical-friendship-of-frank-ohara-and-allen-ginsberg/>

Cran, R 2019, Joe Brainard and the New York School: Material Texts and Digital Cultures (or 'Make Your Own Brainard'). University of Birmingham. <https://www.makeyourownbrainard.com/>

View all publications in research portal