In celebration of the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, the British Council have developed an incredible research project: ‘Shakespeare Lives! 2016: Sonnet Exchange’. Dr Ben Wilkinson took part in this major global arts initiative in which contemporary UK and Korean poets and graphic novelists were matched in a programme of discussion, co-creation, workshops and readings, leading to new narrative interpretations of the sonnets.

As the project website outlines: “Shakespeare’s sonnets are works that cross and challenge boundaries of love, friendship, gender, literary form and question what it means to be human. The Sonnet exchanges are at the heart of an international exchange by contemporary writers and artists.”

Dr Ben Wilkinson and a Korean counterpart, the graphic novelist Sung Goo Won, were tasked with developing a new narrative and visual interpretation of a Shakespearean sonnet. The collaboration enabled the artists to find new insights into Shakespeare’s mysterious poems.


The project culminated with Dr Wilkinson flying out to Seoul in South Korea from the 23 November to the 26 November, to participate in a performance and roundtable discussion on the 24 November, as well as associated media including a radio interview on tbs eFM.

Said Dr Wilkinson:  “I’ve just returned from Seoul, South Korea, on the back of a British Council-led collaborative project: a ‘sonnet exchange’ as part of the global Shakespeare Lives! 2016 programme. From start to finish, the whole thing has been an absolutely unforgettable, amazing experience.”

This major collaborative research project outlines the international reach of the University of Bolton’s School of the Arts research.

“Despite being at two removes from one another, artistically and linguistically, with the help of a translator over Skype video calls Sung Goo and I produced something we’re both proud of – proof that a shared emotional response to great art can bring together a bard from four centuries ago, a Yorkshire-based writer, and a Korean cartoonist.”

You can visit Dr Ben Wilkinson’s website and read more of his poetry here:




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