November 19, 2010, by Alex Patterson
Launch of Courses in Creative Writing
This event took place on the evening of Wednesday 17 November 2010 and the School was delighted to welcome a wide range of guests that included writing practitioners, lecturers and university colleagues, The Vice-Chancellor Professor David Greenaway and his wife Susan, and last but not least, those involved in the production, publication and development of writing within Nottingham and the region. It is this sense of relationship and collaboration that the School is keen to foster and develop as the Creative Writing programme moves forward in the years ahead.
Earlier in the day, the playwright Stephen Lowe (who we are delighted has been appointed as a Special Lecturer within the School) had presented a lecture in which he stressed the craft of writing, reminding us that the playwright is essentially a maker of plays, in the same sense that wheelwrights and cartwrights and so on are makers too. This not only underscores a heritage of the writer as creative maker (and Shakespeare most obviously come to mind) but also demystifies the process by which writing occurs and may therefore be taught.
It is a theme I continued in my brief talk at this event. For in this learning process the Creative Writing student enjoys a particular and privileged perspective in their understanding of poetry, fiction and writing for performance (and the growing number of hybrid forms that exist in and around these). It is an understanding that comes from approaching such texts from the inside, as self-critical makers and craftspeople, and through this developing a unique understanding of the makings of others. As writers and teachers ourselves, we share this particular insight and also realise that this requires a learning environment – the workshop – that is based on enthusiasm, encouragement, openness and critical exchange. We understand our own craft all the better by encountering and sharing in the craftwork of others.
The evening included some of our own sharing: Matt Welton reading Parlour Trick and Wallace Stevens’ The Pleasures of Merely Circulating; Thomas Legendre an extract from the novel he is currently working on, provisionally entitled Living in the Past; and the actor Robin Bowerman, hotfoot from Nottingham Playhouse’s production of Amy’s View, performing from my own current Three Christs Project, which has been developed with Robin and cast and director from the Playhouse, with support from the University’s Knowledge Transfer Fund. As Stephen Lowe noted, theatre above all else is a collaborative medium.
Over refreshments there were warm renewals of acquaintance and new and enthusiastic introductions too. I know that already from this, fresh ideas and projects have been initiated. We look forward to further creative events and congregations in the future and would like to thank all those who organised and supported this launch.
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