NAWE Conference Programme
Saturday 10 November
09.00-10.00 Plenary Session
The Creative Writing A Level – Katherine Clements, Adrian Beard, Jane Bluett, Maggie Butt, Paul Munden
We are pleased to present and discuss the full shape, content – and implications – of the Creative A Level proposed for introduction in 2013.
10.00-11.15 Choice of:
A3: Questions and Answers – Letting Voices Play; a dialogic approach to constructing prose – Georgina Lock
This practical workshop explores, in a group of up to 16 participants, techniques to construct fictional and analytical prose. Creating characters as points of view, these structured theatre improvisations and timed writing exercises aim to stimulate scripting dialogue and, in analyzing the results, apply them to appropriate forms of prose. The theory of this approach is rooted in the structure of Socratic dialogue and the analysis of Bahktin. So it is classic and fashionable. At least as importantly, it can transfer to and inform writing and performance practice simply and pragmatically. I continue to use it in constructing prose, specifically in adapting a screenplay into a novel and writing the accompanying commentary as part of a PhD in Creative Writing.
B3: An exploration of one's relation to language in writing and self construction through Creative Writing exercises – Zoe Charalambous, Jo Metivier
The questions about Creative Writing have evolved from ‘how is writing taught’ to ‘what is being learnt when writing is taught?’ This session will draw from ongoing research investigating creative writing exercises/games in the Creative Writing class in higher education. The texts and interviews of undergraduate students will be used as examples to be discussed in the session. Lacan’s psychoanalytic theory of the subject hypothesized that the construction of self is linked to one’s construction of language. This conception of the subject will be used as a way of initiating discussion about the relation between use of language in writing and self construction.
C3: Excommunications – Graham Mort
This session will explore the historical and contemporary difficulties facing Ugandan writers working in English in relation to editorial practice and representation of indigenous writing on the secondary schools curriculum. Based on research carried out in Kampala in 2012, it will feature interviews carried out with writers, publishers, teachers and the National Curriculum Development Centre, plus a series of workshops designed to enhance editorial skills for members of the Femrite Women Writers Association. The presentation will be illustrated through the workshop process and new writing installed on the website of the Centre for Transcultural Writing and Research at Lancaster University.
D3: Creative writing as artistic practice – Jac Cattaneo, Curtis Tappenden, Marie-Therese Gramstadt
What happens when art, design and media students are given the chance to engage with creative writing practice? This workshop will disseminate the findings of a cross-institutional collaboration between extra-curricular writing groups for FE and HE creative arts students at the University for the Creative Arts and Northbrook College. Participants in the session will be given the opportunity to work with a range of tools, including maps, found objects and film clips, to generate ideas that cross the boundaries between artefact, image and text. We will also consider how to use notions of psychogeography and auto-topography within an educational context.
E3: Coaching for Writers – Elizabeth Forbes
With so much talk this year being about the Olympics, the terms ‘coach’ and ‘coaching’ may conjure up for many an image of track-suits, whistles and sweat. It doesn’t have to be like that and coaching for writers is on the increase. If you have wondered what coaching is and how it can work with writers, this could be the session for you. It will be participative and give you the opportunity to deepen your understanding of coaching and hear about the outcomes of research undertaken in 2012, looking at coaching as a way of supporting and developing writers.
F3: Patterning Lives: Fashion Objects and Heritage Writing in Schools – Jennifer Young, Sarah Lloyd, Eleanor Markland
Social history can sound deadly dull to a school student. Add in asking them to write, and it can seem like an impossible task. But give them a tactile link – a hat they can try on, a vintage fashion plate or a photograph of a person wearing a dress – and an understanding of social history and a desire to write suddenly becomes fun. The University of Hertfordshire has recently conducted two interdisciplinary projects in writing and heritage studies. The projects have been run by staff and students from History and Creative Writing, in collaboration with local schools and museums.
11.15-11.45 Tea/Coffee & Booksigning
Elaine Walker, editor of Teaching Creative Writing (Professional & Higher Partnership, 2012) will be signing copies together with other contributors.
11.45-13.00 Choice of:
A4: Workshopping the Workshop – Michele Irwin
Every writer who guides a workshop guides it in his or her own way. For this reason, a formal workshop pedagogy seems an impossibility. The workshop itself has no set parameters. It changes shape and meaning depending on who attends and teaches; at what level of education the workshop takes place; why the workshop takes place; and even where it takes place. Still, workshop leaders have agreed to encourage participants to practise. Can we then define the “right” and “wrong” workshop? Can we say what absolutely must happen in workshop so that students leave feeling ready for independent work? What about the workshop makes for an independent writer? Can a workshop have uniform standards and methodology no matter who teaches it? In other words, is there such a thing as best practice in the workshop? This guided session will work as a generative dialogue among participants, creating a source for best practice workshop methodologies.
B4: Poetics – poietes: maker, poet – Keith Jebb, Lesley McKenna
In ‘The Necessity of Poetics’ Robert Sheppard posits poetics as a necessary practice for all creative writing students. It is a reflective, self-reflexive discourse on one’s writing, a parallel act to the writing itself, which sometimes surfaces in that writing. What does it actually mean? In this workshop we’ll take you through some of the forms poetics can take, some of the issues and themes it takes up, and discuss our own poetics. Finally we’ll start you talking about your own.
C4: I’ll do it later: mentoring the occasional writer – Janet Olearski
Our students tell us they want to write, but why aren’t they writing? As teachers and facilitators we are often challenged to decode mixed messages from our creative writing students and to find new and ingenious ways to motivate them. The presenter will explore students’ beliefs about reading and writing and describe a series of approaches that she has tried with her ‘occasional writer’ students in Abu Dhabi. These include the Short Sprint, Writing It Forward, Back-Seat Mentoring and Style Matching. Come ready to share ideas, do a quick burst of writing, and collect some strategies for your own workshops.
D4: Imaging the Story – Paul Houghton
Adopting a visual artist’s approach, this session will look at the creation and evolution of images in stories and novels. From John Berger's classic treatise, Ways of Seeing, to the painting of Magritte and John Braine's classic guide, Writing a Novel with its chapter, ‘Writing is Seeing’, we will look at Thomas Hardy’s notebooks, Angela Carter’s ‘image clusters’ and Shena Mackay’s collaged imagery. A practical writing activity will take writers through the process of collecting, recording and adapting images so that they may be used to the best effect in new work or work in progress that needs 'imaging.'
E4: In a Nutshell: New Media and Greguería – Denise Hayes
A greguería is a stylistic device employed in Spanish and Latin American literature and made famous by Ramon Gomez de la Serna. It is a short, poetic statement which expresses an idea or defines an object in a witty and original manner. This session explores how new media such as Twitter, Google Translate, and PowerPoint animation can offer exciting opportunities for creative ‘play’ with this literary form. Attendees may find it useful (though not essential) to bring laptops, iPads or iPhones to the workshop. Those attending will be encouraged to engage with a Twitter greguería experiment in collaborative creativity.
F4: Exploring their worlds: diversity, identity and culture – Jackie Zammit
What makes a 'quality' text for opening up the world for learners? This is a question that a book group in Birmingham, made up of teachers and educators, have been asking themselves. Do learners get enough opportunities to engage with texts that are set in other places, explore identity, raise global or controversial issues? We have found 'quality' texts lead to 'quality', purposeful writing. This interactive workshop will share the work of the book group and approaches we have used for raising discussion about these issues, both with teachers and learners.
14.00-15.00 A Reading by Alan Bennett
15.00-16.15 Choice of:
A5: Justifying Creative Writing in an Age of Austerity – Sharon Norris, Hedda Estensen, Shaunna Rushton, Sahar Danesh
In 2010, the Government announced the removal of the cap on university tuition fees in England. This year's intake faces fees of up to £9,000 a year, with maintenance costs on top. In the meantime Britain has entered its first double-dip recession since the 1970s, with the unemployment rate among graduates only 1% higher than it is for school leavers. In such a climate, how can we possibly justify degrees in Creative Writing? This workshop session considers the question and potential answers, and hears from students themselves why they still think a Creative Writing degree is an investment.
B5: a) The shape of the land – Lisa Samson
This paper will describe how my historical novel The Dead House Keeper’s Daughter, set in 14th century Swaledale, engages with the notion of the ‘secular sacred’. The ‘secular sacred’ is writing which explores and interrogates our relationship with place, with the stories and myths associated with landmarks and features of the landscape. The curling valley of the river Swale, with its steep valley sides, its moors and woods and criss-cross paths, became the ordnance survey of my imagination. The novel tells the story of a young voice hearer and included research into early medieval female visionaries. The presentation will be illustrated with slides of the Swale landscape.
b) Amelia and the Virgin: Fact or Fiction? – Nicky Harlow
Nicky will discuss her daughter’s diagnosis of epilepsy, and the subsequent research into visionary saints that went into creating her recent novel, Amelia and the Virgin. She will then consider ways in which Creative Writing students might be encouraged to harness aspects of their own lives in their fiction.
C5: Poetry and Performance in Education and Community: a UK/US comparison – Deborah Stevenson
Deborah Stevenson has recently returned from two months of travelling across America to research poetry in education, community and performance settings. This trip revolutionized her writing style as she performed on street corners and worked with the biggest community and education programmes in the world. As a teacher at university to community level, Deborah will deliver a workshop that gives the participants similar challenges to those she faced in America. Deborah will also illustrate and explain the development of her writing as a consequence of her trip through a performance of her work.
D5: Overdrafts – Ken Cockburn
Basil Bunting called his translations ‘overdrafts’, and in this world where we’re all connected by financial indebtedness, it’s useful to be reminded how much we owe each other culturally as well. In 2011 I ran sessions in Scottish secondary schools looking at the poems of Czeslaw Milosz, the Nobel Prize-winning Polish poet. For almost all the pupils involved, Milosz was unknown to them, and they had little knowledge of Poland. In this session we’ll discuss and write from a Milosz poem, and consider other strategies for presenting other ‘foreign’ works to a ‘domestic’ audience.
E5: Playwriting in a digital age – Caroline Jester
Playwriting and writing for performance is increasingly finding its way onto courses in higher education and its power to transcend barriers of learning in secondary education is explored in Playwriting Across the Curriculum (Routledge 2012). This workshop uses REPwrite, an interactive playwriting tool developed with the Birmingham Repertory Theatre to introduce the teaching of playwriting using digital technology. Delegates will write a collaborative play using REPwrite and explore methods of developing playwriting programmes with multiple writers and how this could be used for international projects. Each participant will need to bring a laptop and provide an email address prior to the workshop.
F5: Flash Fiction: keeping it short – Gail Aldwin
Everyday lives are packed with tasks and activities that leave little time for reading or writing at length. Flash fiction has the ability to fit into the breaks and provides satisfying stories with all the elements of a longer piece of fiction. This interactive workshop will explore opportunities to incorporate flash fiction into your work and will use examples to share: flash fiction at its best; starting points for writing flash fiction; ideas about the definition of flash fiction; websites and e-zines that publish flash fiction enabling writers to reach a wider audience.
16.45-18.00 Choice of:
A6: The Impossibility of Recipe and the Importance of Risk – Cheryl Moskowitz
Timidity is never a friend of great writing. And neither is rigidity. The more we seek to find a blueprint, a guide that might tell us all we need to know about writing, the less we can be sure of when it comes to teaching it or doing it for ourselves. But maybe that is a good thing, that it is only when we can dare to trust instinct and imagination over instruction that we can learn to value those moments of feeling ‘at sea’ with what we are doing as the real opportunities for discovering new possibilities and directions in our work.
B6: Hagiographies: Telling Stories – Moy McCrory
The hagiography represents the edited versions of a life, and presents us only with those things we are supposed to know. Those details glimpsed behind the official version of a life are often the most interesting. Just as Vasari listened to gossip to produce his Lives of the Artists, we have this urge to listen in, to discover the alternative lives behind the official versions.
The Lives of the Saints offer endless possibilities to re-imagine and to reposition current needs behind those paragons of virtue. In this workshop I will flip over the Holy Cards to reveal a different set of circumstances beneath the saint’s day. Every day has its saint, every place has its patron, and every occupation has its saviour. Some of the stories will be genuine, others invented, but it is not always easy to tell which are the real and which are the impossible saints.
C6: Creative Smuggling: Bringing Creative Writing to Literary Analysis – Jenna Butler
How do students come to deeper understandings of character and motivation in works of literature? How can instructors assist students to comprehend the workings of poems? Often, texts fail to engage: works are taught out of context and do not connect to students’ worlds. “Creative smuggling" borrows exercises (and beyond that, a spirit of exploration and a desire to play) from creative writing workshops and adapts them for use in seminar courses. Through a more open approach to literature, students lose their fear and ennui and engage not only as critics and creators, but as appreciators of art.
D6: Deconstructing Voices: a poetry and film collaboration at Liverpool John Moores University – Alicia Stubbersfield, Keith Marley, Lina Valutyte, Ian Walker
Deconstructing Voices is a multi-media performance of poetry, images and sound which are interconnected and improvised so the result is different every time it is performed. It is the result of a collaboration between Keith Marley, experimental documentary maker and Senior Lecturer in Film, and Alicia Stubbersfield, poet and Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing, together with three poetry students. This exciting partnership has transformed the poets’ experience of their own writing and, although the process is experimental, poetry on the page is the basis for each event.
E6: a) Self-publishing: why (or why not) and how? – Anthony Haynes
Developments in digital technology have made self-publishing an option for many authors. But is it worth it? And how do you go about it? This practical session is designed to identify: the pros and cons of self-publishing, compared to traditional publishing; dos and don’ts for self-publishers. The session will provide guidance on further resources on self-publishing.
b) Self publishing – how it can complement and help your career as an author and prolong your work in schools – Gillian McClure
I will start by showing how three of my self published books have prolonged my work in schools by giving me new material for workshops. I will talk briefly about how self publishing can sit alongside a career as a published author and ways in which it can help it. I will give a brief history of Plaister Press; how it all started, the business side of things and where the company stands, three years down the line. Finally, I will discuss the highs and lows of running a publishing company ending on a high note.
F6: Poetry in the Classroom – Robert Hull
This session will explore the implications for classroom pedagogy of trying out two distinct approaches to reading a poem. The first approach follows established curricular guidance and 'normal' pedagogic practice; the second aims exclusively at 'love of' the poem. Following this, we'll consider not only how we move from the reading of poems to the writing of them, but also how that move depends on the aims and pedagogy developed for reading them.
18.00 onwards Bar open
20.00-21.00 Evening Event
A Reading by Simon Armitage