It was with great sadness that we learned of the death in June of Dr Sue Dymoke. Sue was a fine poet and an accomplished academic. She was an Associate Professor at Nottingham Trent University and before that, Reader at the University of Leicester. I got to know Sue as an academic by way of the United Kingdom Literacy Association’s (UKLA) conferences at least twenty years ago. Her 2003 book Drafting and Assessing Poetry was (and still is) influential with teachers and teacher-educators keen to raise the profile of poetry in schools. It reflected Sue’s passion for promoting poetry for everyone and set out her determination to ensure poems and the writing of poems became a part of young people’s cultural life. Consequently, in 2007 as an UKLA conference convenor in Swansea, I asked Sue to speak alongside Anthony Wilson and Michael Rosen in a dedicated day for poetry. Sue’s love for poetry was infectious and her speech that day was memorable for the inspiration she gifted to us.
Sue brought this love and knowledge of poetry and it’s pedagogy to the ESRC funded Poetry Seminar series Poetry Matters in 2011-12. She led this project, co-convened by Anthony Wilson and me, that travelled from Exeter, Leicester and London and included contributions from academics and poets from around the world. It’s mission was to initiate debate and in-depth reflection on poetry pedagogy and planning for further research on, what we all felt, was a seriously neglected aspect of the English curriculum. It resulted in two books: Making Poetry Matter and Making Poetry Happen (2013)that respectively, by way of a number of international writers, disseminated research into poetry pedagogy and its application in schools and colleges. I understand these books remain influential. Since that project, Sue went on to undertake further research in this area internationally and leaves a terrifically rich and inspiring legacy of work. Working with Sue was intellectually enriching, it was fun and a great privilege.
Sue was an accomplished, published poet herself. I will always treasure a signed copy of her book of poems Moon At the Park and Ride (2012) Recently, the United States poet and academic Janine Certo, who read her poems alongside Sue’s wrote this of her: “Sue truly lived a poetic life, one filled with tenderness, play and kindness and whimsy, and she was always so attentive to the beauty in her surroundings”. We will remember Sue with great warmth, thanks and admiration. UKLA sends its heart-felt condolences to Sue’s partner David Belbin, her friends and family.