Editorial by Paul Munden
It is a curious pleasure to introduce an edition focusing on the NAWE Conference 2015 – the first one I have ever missed! Being so very familiar with the format, the tone of creative enquiry and camaraderie that characterizes the event, and now reading so many interesting accounts of what was explored, I am beginning to imagine that I was there after all. Of course, when attending the actual event (and especially as organizer) one is never able to attend more than a fraction of the individual sessions, so even those of you who were indeed there will probably make new discoveries here. Those who have never made it to our conference will I hope find considerable enticement – not only in the variety of topics, and the generous sharing of educational strategies, but also the sense of collaboration, and community. I think it is evident, from Victoria Field’s reflective article in particular, how the conference is not merely an academic exchange, but a wonderfully dynamic, social, and above all writerly event within which writers who give their time so tirelessly to others, in a variety of educational contexts, gain creative replenishment themselves. The NAWE Conference is unique amongst those of its equivalent organizations in other parts of the world in its emphasis on the creative writing workshop within its programme. (Yes, it’s strange that this isn’t the case elsewhere.) Articles by Joan Michelson, Gill James, Paul Francis, Mandy Coe and Kaye Tew – and Victoria Field herself – all give an insight into the workshops that took place.
Victoria also highlights the international dimension of the event. I was pleased that one of my University of Canberra colleagues (Niloofar Fanaiyan) was present, among several other Australians, who generally find it easier (and the weather more appealing) traveling during June to Graeme Harper’s Great Writing Conference, held at Imperial College London. I attended that event myself last year, and it was there that I heard Peter Cooley give his engaging talk about writing in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. I’m pleased to be publishing his work in this edition; it is, apart from anything else, good to have creative work itself getting significant exposure – together with an absorbing account of how it emerged. This, you might think, is material more suited to our newer journal, Writing in Practice, but the expectation there is for a particular type of scholarly purpose. By the same token, recent articles in Writing in Practice that focus on teaching, (those, for example, by Tony McMahon and Tresa LeClerc) might well be considered to belong here instead. There is of course a connective domain between the two publications and the distinction between them is partly one of readership, and style.
We also include here our regular columns, relating to ongoing projects – and from colleagues overseas. Kathy Flann, in her “Letter from America” writes intriguingly about getting to grips with the business of self-promotion. “No one teaches you this stuff”, she writes, though here, through the Writer’s Compass and the Young Writers’ Hub, we have been doing just that. Universities themselves are increasingly incorporating such matters into their writing courses (though needing to hold back from suggesting that publication is a student’s prime aim). A hard-hitting article on the current state of universities occupies the final pages of this edition. Mike Harris may have thrown in the academic towel, but he’s clearly kept a pair of boxing gloves to hand.
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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