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Conference Programme


Saturday 12 November 

07.30–08.30 Breakfast 

08.00–09.00 Registration

09.00–10.00 Choice of: 

A3: Writing Teachers: Communities of Practice – Jenifer Smith 

The National Writing Project (NWP) has been developing teachers’ writing groups since 2009. The project takes as its principles those espoused by the US NWP. Teachers are regarded as agents of reform. Communities of practice, central to the project, inform teachers’ orientations toward writing, writers and the teaching of writing. This workshop will be shaped in such a way as to give a flavour of practice typical of teachers’ writing groups. Through writing and reflecting together we will share some of the findings of the project so far: its impact on teachers’ understanding of writing and themselves as writers and teachers of writers.

B3: Only Connect: NAWE PhD Network – Lily Dunn, Keith Jarrett, Wanda O’Connor, with Robin Mukherjee and special guests

Only Connect was created in an attempt to offer networking opportunities and support to creative writing PhD students from across the country. The first meeting was held at Birkbeck, London, and a steering group formed. This session will aim to provide PhD students with networking, advice and guidance on subjects from the creative/critical divide, employment in an HE framework, publishing, and building a career post-PhD. 

C3: An Interdisciplinary Approach to Screenwriting – Sarah Evans 

Screenwriting can boast a plethora of generic ‘how to’ books, with the aim of most screenwriting manuals – and teaching to a certain extent – being to make what is a gargantuan task appear within reach. But great storytelling is about the ‘why?’ and not the ‘how to’. It’s about our human desire to make sense of our own world through an immersion in others. It’s about trying to create a deep emotional impact through a specific craft, or set of techniques. This presentation workshop will explore the arenas of socio-narratology, philosophy and sociology in an attempt to find inspirational practical tools that help to teach the ‘why?’ of screenwriting. 

D3: What Else but Ink on a Page? Writing for Dialogue and Change – Fiona Hamilton 

Writing is ink on a page or digital marks on a screen, a practice influenced by cultures, literary expectations, markets and audiences. It is other things too. We’ll explore differences, connections and tussles between writing to ‘write better’ and writing to ‘live better’. How can creative writing contribute to positive changes in individual lives and wider society? Drawing on insights from the field of therapeutic writing, we’ll try writing with sounds, gestures and textiles as well as words. Fiona Hamilton will include information on arts-in-health projects and training opportunities for those interested in writing with diverse applications in varied settings.

E3: Music and Creative Writing Workshop – Valeria Vescina

What happens when music and writing are brought together in a short story or a novel? This workshop – the most recent of the ones taught by Valeria Vescina for the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea – focuses on harnessing the power of music to stimulate the imagination and offer insights into the creation of vivid characters and settings. Valeria will demonstrate how authors use the potential of music in fiction and will highlight some of the resulting effects. She will then lead participants through a creative writing exercise. The teaching can be adapted for secondary school pupils of varying ages.   

F3: Café Writing – Helen Stockton, Danielle Lloyd

Writing in different environments can be stimulating and cafés have long been a favourite haunt of writers. JK Rowling commented that ‘the idea of just wandering off to a café with a notebook and writing and seeing where that takes me for a while is just bliss’. Teaching creative writing in a café, using the environment as a stimulant, a resource and a potential audience is becoming increasingly popular. This workshop will cover how to set up, recruit writers for, and resource successful regular café writing workshops as an alternative to a more conventional creative writing learning environment.

10.00–11.00 Choice of: 

A4: Teaching Creative Writing in Secondary Schools – Francis Gilbert 

This workshop will be an interactive, dynamic session that explores the world of teaching Creative Writing (CW) in secondary schools, from Years 7–13. It will suggest sound ‘evidence-based’ approaches for teaching CW in one-off or extended sessions, explain the various requirements for the teaching of CW at KS3, GCSE and A Level, as well as the ways in which visiting writers can productively deliver sessions within the school context. The workshop will combine fun, easy-to-teach activities with a discussion of the underlying learning theories, which support these active approaches. Please come along with a pen and paper, and a willingness to have a go at some creative writing. 

B4: The Self-Directed Writer – Tracy Iceton, Natalie Scott 

Tracey Iceton and Natalie Scott share their recent experiences of working towards their doctorates in Creative Writing, via the traditional route and by existing published works respectively. They describe the process from a student’s perspective, offering advice to any writers thinking about embarking on PhD study by either route, and share some of the creative work produced as part of their studies. They also introduce the areas of interest they have discovered since completing their PhD studies. The session includes an activity that will encourage participants to critically evaluate a piece of their own creative writing.

C4: Spark Young Writers’ Showcase – Jonathan Davidson, Emma Boniwell with participants and leaders from Spark Young Writers’ Groups in Birmingham, Coventry, Pershore, Rugby and Stratford
Writing West Midlands runs one of the largest programmes of creative writing groups for children and young people in the UK. In this showcase we will hear contributions from participants from several groups. In addition, you can get inspiration and practical tips from the team running the sessions on a monthly basis across the region, and ask questions.

D4: Still Life with Blackbirds – Joanne Reardon and Richard Kenton Webb

In 2014, artist Richard Kenton Webb and writer Joanne Reardon created an exhibition of linocuts and stories at the Corinium Museum in Cirencester. The collaboration was a site specific work using this celebrated Roman museum as inspiration and background to the works; a conversation between word and image that became a visual narrative in the form of a detective crime story. Richard and Joanne will be talking about the collaboration, discussing ideas about the discourse that developed throughout the making process which surprised and challenged its creators and posed the question: whose story is it – the artist’s, the writer’s or both?

E4: a) Carpets of Green – Kate Lee 

How do maps work in children’s books? Why, for instance, are they almost always presented before the start of the story? By offering clues about the ‘story world’, do they help children develop important skills, such as the ability to make predictions? And, by encouraging a deeper engagement with the story to come, do they echo an important aspect of historical manuscript design? This paper explores the role of maps in children’s literature through the prism of Anglo Saxon design, which Lee is investigating for a Creative Writing PhD alongside writing a novel for children inspired by the Domesday Book, and creating hand-drawn original maps.

b) Everyday Magic and Mythical Maps – Jennie Bailey 

Have you ever wondered if there’s some sort of sorcery in a vacuum cleaner? Do you have a secret magic word? At this creative writing workshop we’ll have fun conjuring up some words and we’ll be writing the everyday with a little bit of magic, a large dollop of the mystical, and creating myth from maps. This hands-on session offers participants activities to kick-start writing and, by the end of the session, you will come away with a magic spell for an everyday item, and a map that somehow makes a place you know more strange.

F4: The Importance of Letting Go: Creativity and Risk – Danielle Jawando 

As writers, we are inherently inventive when it comes to talking ourselves out of taking risks. There are topics we don’t allow ourselves to explore, and parts of our writing we deliberately censor. But in doing so, what is it we are actually losing? And how can choosing to stay ‘safe’ be stifling to our own creativity? In this workshop, we will explore why creative risk is necessary, uncovering our own personal drawbacks and blocks. Through various exercises we will examine how to take those risks within our own work, and how to encourage our students to do the same. 

11.00–11.30 Coffee

11.30–13.00 Choice of: 

A5: Paper Nations Consultation: The Creative Writer Award Draft Framework – Bambo Soyinka, Jane Bluett, Janine Amos, Nick Sorensen, Seraphima Kennedy 

Funded by Arts Council England, Paper Nations is the country’s first and only creative writing hub for young people. The project brings together the best and most innovative arts organizations, creative writers and academics with a common purpose: to inspire a creative nation of young writers.

The Young Creative Writer Award is a new accredited scheme that will inspire young people to develop their writing talent and build their confidence. Designed in conjunction with NAWE, Bath Festivals and Bath Spa University, this award will be the very first National Creative Writing qualification for children. NAWE is working with Bath Festivals and the Paper Nations Team to design a national framework for the award and a set of tutor-facing resources. We will present the first draft of the framework to creative writing tutors and other interested parties at the conference in November 2016. 

This will be an interactive session, introduced by Dr Bambo Soyinka (Creative Director of Paper Nations). Participants will be invited to give feedback and take part in a focus group session (led by NAWE). 

B5: ‘A Rose is a Rose is a Rose’: Experimental Poetries in the Creative Writing Workshop – Carrie Etter, Patricia Debney, Scott Thurston 

Experimentation and risk-taking are essential to any writer’s evolution, developing knowledge of contemporary poetry and, regardless of the direction ultimately taken, success. As such, these three poet-lecturers consider it necessary to introduce undergraduates to experimental and innovative poetries, both in theory and in practice. In this session, each speaker will outline some classroom techniques, and evaluate the value of such a teaching practice: what might student writers gain from these experiences? What are the benefits of teaching and learning about innovative poetry? What are some of the pitfalls, and how can we anticipate and manage them? 

C5: Writing for Wellbeing: A Discussion with Lapidus – Clare Scott, Barbara Bloomfield, Tony Wall, Lisa Rossetti

Writing for wellbeing is becoming increasingly popular across diverse professional communities, including health, education and business. In this conversational presentation, various Lapidus Board Members explore their experiences of facilitating writing for wellbeing in various professional settings and the sources of professional knowledge and responsibility which frame their practice. They will tackle key questions around the meaning of ‘writing for wellbeing’, insights into generating forms of its transformative and therapeutic value, and how/if the responsibilities of practitioners should be managed. Participants will be invited to share, explore and expand their own perspectives. 

D5: a) Poetry and Film – Sue Burge

For many years freelance lecturer Sue Burge has been combining her two passions – writing poetry and teaching film studies. In this workshop she will present her year-long Arts Council funded project during which she has been writing poetry in response to the cinematic heritage of Paris. Participants will get a chance to write their own cinematic poetry in response to film clips and exercises. Tutors interested in using this technique will be given guidelines and suggestions for incorporating this underexplored aspect of ekphrastic poetry into their own teaching.

b) Becoming a Writer-in-Residence – Heidi Williamson 

What is a Writer-in-Residence? What exactly do they do? And how do you get to be one? Discover the benefits and pitfalls of being a writer attached to an organization. This interactive workshop will include where to look for residencies, how to find the perfect fit, applying, proactively creating your own role, and practicalities: responsibilities, payment, and the impact on your work. There are residencies out there to suit all genres and levels of writer – from those just starting out to full-time professional author. Find out how a writing residency can inspire you, widen your experience, boost income, and help create more writing time.

E5: a) A Silent Journey: What Video Games Can Teach Us About Storytelling – Inés Gregori-Labarta

Journey (2012) is an acclaimed video game that has won a BAFTA among many other awards. Despite the total absence of language in Journey, Escapist magazine (2010) states that ‘the game is absolutely gorgeous and will likely be added to the pantheon of titles used in the “games as art”’.  In this paper, Labarta will show what storytelling techniques (such as characterization, landscape and the monomyth) Journey uses to transmit a powerful story. Labarta argues for the ways in which these can be implemented in our writing to transcend the barriers of language and, thus, reach a wider audience.

b) Hand-Written Journaling in the Digital Age – Dolly Garland

Digital technology has become a norm in our lives. A study by the American Press Institute in 2015 found that 88% of Millennials get news from Facebook. Social media has become a primary form of acquiring information, and people are increasingly shifting from the tactile experience of reading a physical book or writing by hand. In this paper, I investigate how the amalgamation of digital tools and technology can indeed aid, enhance, and even encourage the tactile experience of writing by hand, and impact the art and practice of journaling for personal development.  

c) Non-Linear Storytelling – Chris Walker and Lara Munden

Non-linear storytelling is established practice in the world of computer games, but has found a niche within informal learning environments such as museums, visitor centres and digital installations. Multi-award-winning design consultancy Bright White Ltd, based in York, UK, now has as many writers as designers. Chris and Lara have been creating non-linear stories for diverse applications in this field, from blood-soaked medieval battlefields, through augmented reality studies of the Scottish built environment, to helping an audience to learn from survivors of the Holocaust. They share their experience, and encourage writers to explore non-linear storytelling.

F5: a) Phyzzing: When Science and Poetry and Poets Collaborate – Miranda Barnes, Jonathan Taylor, Stephen Payne

Miranda Barnes met fellow writer Tania Hershman in the practice-based creative writing PhD programme at Bath Spa University, and an ‘off-PhD’ writing collaboration inspired by physics called ‘Phyzzing’ was born. Miranda has continued seeking out the ways poets can explore science in poetry, both in solitary and collaborative work. Joining Miranda will be poet-scientists Sarah Watkinson and Stephen Payne. Unlike Miranda, Sarah and Stephen’s primary careers were in science: fungal biology and cognitive science respectively. The poets will talk about their own use of science, share some of their writing, and open the discussion to see how they can inspire more writers to play with science. 

b) ‘It’s Alright, Students, Not to Write’: What Ron Padgett’s Poetry Can Teach Us – Jeremy Over 

In this session Jeremy Over will explore Padgett’s playful approach to poetry to see what it can teach the reader and writer of poetry, and the teacher of creative writing. While less well known as a teacher than his mentor and first generation ‘New York School’ predecessor, Kenneth Koch, Padgett edited the classic T&W Handbook of Poetic Forms and his guide to Creative Reading should accompany every course on writing. The poetry he has written for over half a century can in itself be seen as a delightful instruction manual and guide (crazy wisdom-style) to writing and living.

13.00–14.00 Lunch 

14.00–15.00 Plenary session: 

‘A drum, a drum…’ – Kit Monkman, Judith Buchanan

Film director Kit Monkman and Shakespeare advisor Judith Buchanan discuss, and show excerpts from, the forthcoming Macbeth, a stylish hybrid of film, theatre and cutting-edge visual effects.


15.00–16.30 Choice of: 

A6: a) Collaborative Novel Writing in Secondary Education – Catherine Bruton

79,020 words, 58 chapters, 32 student authors aged 11–19, three young editors, 13 teacher and parent contributors and a couple of famous authors too! The Ring is a unique project: a ‘collaborative novel’, dreamt up by the students of King Edward’s School, Bath and now available in all good bookshops! Spear-headed by author/teacher Catherine Bruton, this is the second such project KES Creative Writing Society has completed, with two more attempts that ran aground. Catherine talks about the dos and don’ts of collaborative writing projects: what works – and what definitely doesn’t; how to avoid collaborative disaster; what you learn when things go wrong; and what students gain from working in this unique genre.

b) Voices of Children in Adult Fiction – Gail Aldwin 

Creative writing doctoral studies combine academic research with creative output through practice-led research. This presentation draws upon the experience of writing a novel with alternating narratives, which describe the experience of childhood trauma from the viewpoint of the same character at 10 years of age and at 23. Research has involved investigating the range of techniques published authors use in developing their child characters. During this presentation, I will draw from a toolkit of strategies and techniques to demonstrate how writers frame children in adult fiction. My particular areas of interest include the sound of voice and vulnerable children’s perspectives.

c) Four Methods for Teaching Creative Nonfiction Outside of the Traditional Workshop – DeAnn Bell

Creative Nonfiction is becoming a popular subject in university teaching but it is a subject that does not lend itself well to the traditional workshop experience. Challenging aspects of the subject include student engagement, relaying realistic experience, and understanding reader engagement as it applies to creative nonfiction. I have found that combining four interlinking workshops – Prose Sketching, Writing Inside the Box, Travel Magazine Editor Workshop, and Biography of the Unknown – can greatly increase the quality of work produced by students and class participation. In addition, these workshops offer real world applications for developing writing outside of the classroom. 

B6: a) EACWP III International Pedagogical Conference: Creativity and Storytelling – Javier Sagarna, Lorena Briedis

The European Association of Creative Writing Programmes has recently celebrated its most remarkable biennial event: the International Pedagogical Conference. This worldwide open encounter hosted by Scuola Holden (Turin, Italy), gathered colleagues from the most prestigious institutions in Creative Writing around all Europe. Workshops, round tables, lectures and mini-lectures took place concerning Creativity and Storytelling, sharing different methodologies and pedagogical approaches. Participants also considered future topics and the development of collaborative projects and exchanges. This talk is intended to resume those discussions and the conclusions of the event.

b) Using Learning Principles in the Teaching of Creative Writing­ РGale Burns

Reviewing some new and old principles of the way we learn, this participatory session will explore how these can be best applied to the teaching of creative writing. These include the dynamics of building a safe learning environment, allowing students to review their current knowledge, dealing with past learning challenges and working with emotions. These principles, when applied, can allow students to overcome past challenges such as repeating mistakes, writing blocks, discouragement and too much self-criticism, reclaiming for themselves the joy of writing.

C6: The Genre Creative Writing PhD – Paul Pattison, Tiffani Angus, Una McCormack, Laura Dietz

This panel will examine challenges and opportunities specific to Creative Writing PhDs in genre fiction. Creative writing lecturers and students from ARU (Cambridge) will draw on their research and their own experience of supervising and writing Genre PhDs. Genres will include the rational domain (Science Fiction, Crime Writing and Historical) and the sentimental (Romance, Horror and Fantasy). Discussion-based, it will open debate to the audience and draw on the deep experience of NAWE delegates. Topics will include restrictive word counts, university libraries stocking appropriate reference material, and networking agents and publishers to inform creative writing teaching in the university. 

D6: Writing and Resisting Work in an Employability Focused Higher Education System – Tyler Keevil, Lucy Tyler, DD Johnstone

While student employability has been a focus in the last three Quality Assurance Agency Higher Education Reviews, the ideological basis of employability has received little attention. But how do HE discourses in employability relate to the field of Creative Writing? In this shared presentation, three short provocations will introduce a discussion on how creative writers can respond creatively, pedagogically, and politically to the central emphasis on employability in HE. Creative writers have a complex relationship to the employability agenda; Creative Writing students are unlikely to immediately enter degree-relevant graduate work and they do not always consider employability a priority. This discussion will consider the contested attitudes to wage labour and the employability agenda that Creative Writing lecturers – and their students – must negotiate within their discipline.  

E6: Unsung Heroes: Life Writing for Transformation – Farrukh Akhtar

‘The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking out new landscapes but in having new eyes.’ —Marcel Proust. When you reflect on all that you are today, is there an unsung hero in the background? This is someone who goes unnoticed but who makes a substantial yet unrecognized contribution. This taster session introduces some of the tools of Transformative Life WritingTM.  Participants often report moving beyond self-criticism to a creative space where they value and honour themselves, and others, as writers. Those who wish to will also have the opportunity to develop their written pieces into posters as part of an exhibition of Unsung Heroes.

F6: Good Girls, Bad Girls: Writing Female Characters in Young Adult Fiction – Sarah Gibson Yates, Liz Flanagan

In this interactive workshop we will discuss the challenges of writing contemporary realist YA fiction, with specific reference to the depiction of female characters, using examples from our work. We will ask what kind of themes and content define this fast-growing and innovative field, and participants will take part in short writing exercises. No experience necessary.

16.30–17.00 Tea/Coffee

17.00–18.00 Choice of: 

A7: First Story: National Writing Day – Monica Parle, William Fiennes

Inspired by other national arts advocacy initiatives such as The Big Draw and the Fun Palaces, on 21 June 2017 First Story and partner arts and education organizations across the UK will launch the first ever National Writing Day. First Story Co-Founder William Fiennes will discuss this advocacy project that aims to create momentum around creative writing and increase its profile in the national education and arts agenda. We’re working to develop resources, plan programmes and compile research, and we’re looking for more partners to participate, and this session will discuss ways for individuals and community groups to get involved.

B7: Autoethnographic Writing as Research and Therapy – Jeannie Wright, Anne-Marie Smith

Two women who share an interest in personal writing, feminism and an academic professional context use creative writing in times of transition. In this workshop we seek meaningful ways to connect beyond the increasingly competitive and neo-managerialist environment of the academy (Waitere et al. 2011). Exploring the transitions we make in and out of the academy, we invite participants to share and acknowledge the value of creative writing and its therapeutic and liberating potential for self-actualization.

C7: Portable Magic: Making Books – Patricia McNair, Philip Hartigan

‘Books are a uniquely portable magic,’ wrote Stephen King. Participants in this two-part workshop will learn to construct their own hand-made books from single sheets of paper, and then be guided through a writing activity using those books as the foundation for exploring story structure. Led by a visual artist and a writer, this workshop will use a variety of folding and cutting techniques to create the portable magic, and will allow time for writing and sharing of work as well. Suitable for writers at all levels. Materials will be provided.

D7: You Have to Laugh…Or Do You? Comedy Writing for Stress Management – Marie Larkin

There is scant reference to comedy in writing for well-being literature, yet laughter can be a delicious medicine for life’s stresses and strains. In this workshop, Marie Larkin presents her seminal research in the form of an evocative autoethnography in which she examines the effects of applying comedy writing techniques to creative writing in times of stress. Through readings, performance and discussion, participants will have the opportunity to consider some of the pros and cons of comedy in writing for well-being, with space to see what happens if we try to tickle the tension out of our funny bones through the playful power of words. 

E7: The Poem as Witness – Joan Michelson

This workshop will offer a discussion of poems by the Serbian poet Goran Simic (New and Selected Sorrows, Smokestack Books, 2015). We will begin by reading and discussing poems written during the siege of Sarajevo, when, with his Muslim wife and their children, he lived trapped in an apartment in the old quarter. We will pay particular attention to the poem as ‘the true and decent witness’ (Simic’s view) against the ‘cold newspaper reports which will be forgotten with the start of a new war.’ Drawing on our own witnessed events, first-hand or other, we will draft our own poems.
F7: Hybrid Writing – Wanda O’Connor, Kat Peddie (replacing Amy McCauley) 

Hybrid writing positions us in vulnerability. It projects the wider field we inhabit and allows us a critical revisioning of our world. By creatively casting onto multiple forms we can mirror our true lives – a bricolage of voice and body, nostalgia, memory – while troubling the conception of genre. What may seem an unstable form finds its strength in its emerging characteristics: inviting interdisciplinarity, crossing genre boundaries such as prose-poetry, visual collage, flash fiction, and what Maggie Nelson calls ‘autotheory’ (autobiographical writing that exceeds the boundaries of the ‘personal’) that can re-envision the creative project. We will discuss methods of teaching hybrid writing and examine models of the hybrid form that may serve to strengthen the writer’s approach to writing and interpreting innovative work.

18.00–18.30 Plenary session

Myths of the Near Future – Wes Brown, Sophie-Louise Hyde, Beth Jellicoe

Wes Brown will present the latest changes to the NAWE Young Writers’ Hub and introduce two young poets who have contributed to Myths of the Near Future, our publication of new writing by under 25s. Sophie-Louise Hyde is a poet specializing in verbatim, experimental and visual-digital poetry. She has an MA in Creative Writing and is currently finishing a part-creative PhD at Loughborough University. Her work deploys verbatim and digital methods in poetry in order to inspire new ways of (re)presenting ideas of community.
Beth Jellicoe is a writer who currently lives in London. She has published work in various journals and projects including London Journal of Fiction, wordgathering and the Stratford Literature Festival anthology.

8.30–19.30 Dinner

20.00–21.00 Evening Event

A reading by Kit de Waal (plus Q&A with Celia Brayfield)

Kit de Waal writes about forgotten and overlooked places where the best stories are found. Her first novel, My Name is Leon, is a heart-breaking story of love, identity, and learning to overcome unbearable loss. Kit was born in Birmingham to an Irish Mother and Kittian father, and worked for fifteen years in criminal and family law. She was a magistrate and used to advise Social Services on the care of foster children, as well as writing training manuals on adoption and foster care. 

Her prize-winning flash fiction and short stories appear in various anthologies. She won the Readers’ Prize at the Leeds Literary Prize 2014, and the Bridport Prize for Flash Fiction in 2014 and again in 2015. In 2016, she founded the Kit de Waal Scholarship at Birkbeck University, a creative writing scholarship specially designed for budding writers who would not otherwise be able to afford a Master’s degree. 



Kit de Waal

8pm: A Reading by Kit de Waal 

Kit de Waal writes about forgotten and overlooked places where the best stories are found. Her first novel My Name is Leon is a heart-breaking story of love, identity, and learning to overcome unbearable loss. Kit was born in Birmingham to an Irish Mother and Kittian father, and worked for fifteen years in criminal and family law. She was a magistrate and used to advise Social Services on the care of foster children, as well as writing training manuals on adoption and foster care. Her prize-winning flash fiction and short stories appear in various anthologies. She won the Readers’ Prize at the Leeds Literary Prize 2014, and the Bridport Prize for Flash Fiction in 2014 and again in 2015.   In 2016, she founded the Kit de Waal Scholarship at Birkbeck University, a creative writing scholarship specially designed for budding writers who would not otherwise be able to afford a Master’s degree.