Ahren joined Loughborough in 2016 as a Vice Chancellor’s Research Fellow, before which he was a Research Associate at the Newcastle Centre for the Literary Arts (Newcastle University). He is a writer, artist and critic, working across poetry, creative-critical and theoretical writing, filmmaking and photography.
Ahren gained his PhD from Queen Mary, University of London, for a philosophically-orientated thesis on the changing deployment of commodities as signifiers of identity and intersubjectivity within modern and contemporary poetry. He also holds an MFA Fine Art from Goldsmiths, University of London.
He has published four books of poetry – most recently, 'Hello. Your promise has been extracted' (Bloodaxe, 2017), and a hybrid poetry and film work, 'The sea is spread and cleaved and furled' (Prototype, 2020) – which have won various awards, including three Poetry Book Society Recommendations, an Arts Foundation Fellowship and selection for Bloomberg New Contemporaries (2020).
In addition to his work as a writer, artist and academic, Ahren edited Poetry London – the UK’s leading independent poetry journal – from 2013 to 2019, and has been a jury member for the T.S. Eliot Prize, Society of Authors Awards and Eric Gregory Awards. He has been a Guest Lecturer at Newcastle University, Kingston, Queen Mary, Bath Spa and Kings College London, has delivered the Royal Society of Literature’s annual T.S. Eliot Memorial Lecture and worked regularly with the British Council.
Ahren's moving-image and photographic work has been exhibited at institutions including the South London Gallery (London), Centro de Cultura Digital (Mexico City), Nikola Tesla Museum (Zagreb), EUNIC (Athens) and the Great North Museum (Newcastle).
He is also a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (FHEA).
Ahren's current research has two loci: intermedia artistic practice as an expanded lyric or poetic form, and artistic and literary explorations of contemporary economies of pleasure, desire and commodified experience. He is interested in writing and contemporary visual art as what Jacques Lacan would have called “homologous” (and, indeed, networked) forms of thought, whilst much of his creative research concerns the inadequacy of logic, or ethics, as modes for engaging with, and thinking about, the affective experience of the circulation of commodities, pleasure industries and commercially mediated forms of intersubjectivity.
Recent works include a film, 'I’m thinking what would sound sincere but, also, like, oh that’s super cute' (South London Gallery/Bloomberg New Contemporaries) and an ongoing photographic project, 'All the Jacks' (Nikola Tesla Museum/Art Zagreb), a poetry and moving-image work, 'The sea is spread and cleaved and furled' (Prototype, 2020), and a book of poems, lyric prose and photographs, 'Hello. Your promise has been extracted' (Bloodaxe, 2017). In addition, he has also published scholarly essays on the work of Angie Estes, Louis MacNeice and C.K Williams, and co-edited a volume of essays, 'The Contemporary Poetry Archive: Essays and Interventions' (EUP, 2019).
Current work includes a new book of poems and art writing, 'I’m totally killing your vibe' (Bloodaxe, 2022) and a creative-critical monograph/photobook, currently in progress.
Ahren teaches on the BA Fine Art, BA English with Creative Writing, MA Theatre and MA Storytelling, and is Module Leader for the MA Interdisciplinary Project, which allows students from across the School of Design and Creative Arts, as well as those from other disciplines, to collaborate on a creative project.
Previously, at Newcastle University and Queen Mary, University of London, he taught on a range of BA English Literature and both undergraduate and postgraduate Creative Writing programmes. He has also taught creative workshops and courses for organisations including the British Council (Athens/Paris), the Poetry School (London), San Miguel Poetry Week (Mexico) and at various international literary festivals.
Ahren welcomes prospective PhD projects focused on creative or critical research into modern, contemporary and experimental poetry, art writing, writing within contemporary art, artist’s moving-image, contemporary photography and intermedia artistic practices.
- Patrick Brandon, 'Positive incapabilities: productive inefficiencies in painting and poetry practice dialogues'
- Mark Sladen, 'Resume Transmission: Re-reading the Work of Felix Gonzalez-Torres'
Current PhD Supervision
- Peter Dukes, 'A Materialist and Transcategorical Poetic/Visual Arts Practice: Praxis, Intention, Authorship and Reception' (working title)
- Ngozi Oparah, 'TREATMENTS: Using experimental and multimedia storytelling to approach mental health literacy'
- Theo Turpin, 'An analysis and implementation of the logics of transmedia narratives within the field of contemporary art' (working title)