Editorial by Paul Munden
The contributions to this issue, all but one deriving from our conference in Bristol last November, demonstrate the great variety of focus that NAWE members bring to that event. What we can’t reflect here is the quantity of contributions, since over 100 individuals took part in over 40 sessions. It is intriguing to contemplate what a “full” conference publication would be like. Of course, not everyone wants to turn their workshop or presentation into an article, but we are indebted to those who have done so here.
With NAWE’s new peer-reviewed journal concentrating as its name suggests on practice
, there is of course a focus here on education
. Steve Dearden’s “Provocation”, as delivered within one of the conference plenaries, challenges those working in higher education to make sure that their courses – but more than that, their whole systems of support for developing writers – are truly fit for purpose. Helen Stockton, operating within the field of adult and community education, seeks similar quality assurance.
Steve raises several specific questions that we should try to answer. He cites the difficulty prospective students have in identifying a course that is right for them – and will deliver what it promises. Other contributors here, however, speak up very clearly for the particular course characteristics on offer in their institutions: Lucy English describes a “real world” project for students at Bath Spa; Alyson Morris and Tim Kelly explain how Coventry University is at the forefront of creative assessment; and Claire Williamson writes about Creative Writing for Therapeutic Purposes as offered at MSc level at the Metanoia Institute. Students “in the market”could surely gain much from such views of their prospective tutors “at work”.
Some of the sharing here is highly practical (which is of course typical of our conference). The exercises put forward by Rebecca Smith, Judith Heneghan and Carole Burns in exploring “The Village of Your Novel” will be useful to writers working in almost any context. Fiona Hamilton explores writing and dance, and Julie Taylor provides honest reflections on handling the giving and receiving of feedback with her A Level students. As she so rightly says: “the process of sharing work and giving and receiving comment will stand them in good stead for their future lives.”
There’s a focus too on poetry – not least in the news pages, where columns from Liz Cashdan, Anne Caldwell and Wes Brown all use poems to expand their remarks. Amongst the articles, Andrea Holland describes the place of research in her poetry, a hot topic, for sure, but less expected, perhaps, in relation to poetry rather than prose. Children’s poetry is also highlighted, in the eloquent plea for action that comes from Mandy Coe and Kaye Tew.
Based in Australia as I currently am, at the University of Canberra, it seems clearer to me than ever before how national associations are so important—indeed the visible face of creative writing within their respective nations for those operating elsewhere. In my own Bristol conference talk, I made reference (part jokingly) to an International Association of Writers in Education, and no, I don’t mean that NAWE should start acting above itself. I was simply drawing attention to the growing set of national bodies with developing affiliations. We were delighted to welcome Javier Sagarna and Mariana Torres, representing the European Association of Creative Writing Programmes (EACWP) to the NAWE Conference, and equally delighted to be publishing a full account of the association’s work in this edition.
One of the pleasures in assembling this magazine is taking in the list of new members – which seems to get longer every time – and their locations. On this occasion, it was “Hiroshima, Japan” that immediately caught my attention. Could any of us, founding the Northern Association of Writers in Education (which Steve Dearden fondly recalls in his article) have predicted such a “result”? It seems fitting, at least, that we have two articles in this edition relating to Japan: Robert Paul Weston’s “Japanese Wisdom” and Oz Hardwick’s account of the Anglo-Japanese haiku project at Shandy Hall. Typesetting Japanese characters has certainly been a first for this particular editor.
I’d like to end by thanking the many members who have expressed interest in joining the Editorial Team. We plan to involve as many as possible, on a gradual basis. We begin, for the next edition (No. 66) by welcoming George Green, Carolyn Jess-Cooke, Tom MacAndrew and Sally O'Reilly.
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For a full list of contents, click on the image or the link below. NAWE members logged into the site can read the full articles. You can also browse the complete back catalogue of previous issues