Thu 22 March 2018
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Current Issue

No. 73

Editorial by Paul Munden

It seems that the Nobel Prize committee is intent on steering the content of this autumn editorial. Exactly a year ago, I was writing about the very strange decision to award the prize to Bob Dylan. This year, with the prize awared to Kazuo Ishiguro, the world’s reaction was very different. As one NAWE member (re)tweeted: ‘I do enjoy it when Nobel picks a winner you can actually read.’ (Johnny Geller). David Morley too was quick to comment: ‘And they say you cannot teach creative writing?’ The award of such a major prize to a one-time student of creative writing is what many have been waiting for: prominent evidence of how writing thrives when nurtured by other masters of the craft, a process otherwise known as being ‘taught’.

Ishiguro was taught by Malcolm Bradbury, and I recall Bradbury mentioning how Ishiguro, during his time at the University of East Anglia under Bradbury’s tutelage, was at first writing gritty stories about contemporary suburban Bristol. It was competent work that was insufficiently charged by the self (my words). That seems particularly important, in the light of the criticism often directed at creative writing teaching – that it results in a competent uniformity. Bradbury’s comments, as I understand them, point to something completely different: how teaching creative writing, for all its necessary emphasis on craft, is attuned to the individual, aiming to help not only in the development of the individual voice, but also the writer’s grasp of what it is they most urgently and most powerfully have to say.

At this precise moment in time, my own most urgent thoughts are located in a forty-year memory of Clare Mallorie (Munden), who died suddenly, at home, on 7 October. Clare was our brilliant NAWE administrator for nearly 17 years, and my wife for much longer. Following my email to members immediately after the event, I have been overwhelmed by the wonderfully warm messages of condolence and appreciation for all that Clare did for the association. Many – perhaps all – NAWE members had dealings with Clare by email or post; regular conference goers are those who will have got to know her best. She was an invaluable part of that event for many years – first of all at the Lancaster Conference in 2005, and then at all our residential conferences that followed.

Clare was not a writer herself, but gave an enormous amount of her time, over and above her part-time NAWE hours, to make sure other writers had the support they needed to pursue their careers. The most extreme example was her support for my own three-year research appointment in Canberra, Australia. It has meant that, for the last three years of Clare’s life, we only saw each other for a couple of months in the Summer and over Christmas. Not everyone understood the arrangement, and that a relationship could still thrive on such terms – but it did. It was a sign of strength, Clare’s in particular. The fact, however, that further time together has proved impossible, is hard to bear.

At the NAWE Conference we will no doubt share various memories of Clare, personally, and in groups, but I’m pleased that there will be at least one occasion at which we will celebrate a tangible memorial. It has only been in the last few days that Nessa O’Mahony and I finished editing the new anthology, Metamorphic: 21st century poets respond to Ovid. There was just time, before sending the book to print, to include a dedication to Clare, which seems especially fitting given that so many NAWE members are included in the anthology (see p.8). The NAWE Conference in York will include the first of a number of launches for the book, and details of further events will be included in our e-bulletin.

Thank you, again, for all your messages, which have been a huge support for me and my family, and for those working most closely with Clare within this wonderful network we have all built together over 30 years.

The printed version of the magazine will be mailed to Professional Members and Institutions by the end of November. Any other members - including e-members - may purchase printed copies by following the link below.

Associate/Student Members and those benefiting from Institutional Membership can opt to have the printed magazine sent automatically by upgrading. If you would like to do this, please contact Libby Edison.

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.

Magazine Download
All NAWE Members (with the exception of e-members signed up to receive the e-bulletin only) can download the full magazine as a PDF. Both No. 72 and No. 73 are available here below. Please log in for the files to appear. Individual articles are also accessible.