MFAs to be published in RiPPLE

This Wednesday, 1 May will see the launch of RiPPLE, Kingston University’s annual literary anthology, published by Kingston University Press. We are proud to announce that there are several MFAs featured in this year’s publication. Some of them will also be reading at the launch so you can hear what we’re really made of. We invite you all to join us at 7pm on Wednesday in Woody’s Bar & Kitchen for a celebratory evening filled with good writing.

RiPPLE Launch


Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Woody’s Bar & Kitchen

5 Ram Passage, Kingston upon Thames KT1 1HH


MFAs published in RiPPLE 2013:

Kristin Durinick

Lucy Furlong

Neil Horabin

Sinéad Keegan

Ryan Licata

Beatrice Parvin


MFAs reading at the event:

Beatrice Parvin – Love Letters and Asparagus

Sinéad Keegan – Desert Children


Ripple Invite

MFA Dissertation Module Guide – 2013

Following, please find the official module guide for the 2013 MFA Dissertation. This includes requirements, reading lists and an explanation of the dissertation for several forms (Poetry, prose, drama etc.).


Christopher Priest – 23 April 7:30pm

Christopher Priest flyerJoin the Facebook event here.

Read more about Christopher Priest in his writer profile.

Catch the Pigeon

Lucy Furlong is currently completing her MFA in creative writing.  She recently had a poem included in English Pen’s Poems for Pussy Riot anthology, Catechism, and has a poem in the latest issue of Structo magazine. Sometimes she performs her work, if she can get a babysitter.


Aesthetic – what does it mean exactly? And more particularly what does it mean if you are a writer? The online Oxford Dictionaries lists it, amongst other things, as: “a set of principles underlying the work of a particular artist or artistic movement.

The poet and musician Patti Smith is quoted as saying hers were fully developed at an early age:

“All I ever wanted to be was an artist. I’ve always been driven aesthetically. It used to get me in trouble. I used to wear the same thing every day to school as a kid. I had a uniform consciousness. Even the teacup that I drank from…I didn’t like plastic, I liked porcelain. By 12 (my aesthetics) were totally defined.”

In the midst of writing my first full collection of poetry for my MFA dissertation, I have been confronted with the issue of what exactly my poetry aesthetic is, and is it affected by my personal aesthetics? So far the answers are: I’m not sure but I’ve got a few clues; Yes, of course… Can the two be separated- must they be? No one would separate Patti Smith the person from her poetry, her writing, music or art. But what makes her work so distinctive?

Whilst I was loitering in the Turbine Hall at Tate Modern yesterday, waiting to see the Lichtenstein retrospective, I talked to a friend about my investigation into aesthetics and what that meant in relation to the aesthetic at work in my own poetry. She wondered if it meant I was ‘pigeonholing’ my work, categorising myself. I considered this for a moment and thought that she probably had a point but that it was also about time I set down a few working boundaries for this collection.

I have experimented with all kinds of ways of writing poems, from concrete to formal, from prose to fragmented free verse. It has been hugely enjoyable and a great opportunity to try different ways of working. There are some clear themes and subject matter emerging and I am now in a position to have some idea of what I want to achieve, of what I am aiming for.

In the bookshop I picked up the Bloomsbury Anthology of Aesthetics. The introduction mentions the origins of the use of the word in the eighteenth century, from Alexander Baumgarten’s intention for a science of “sensuous cognition.”

That sounded better than the problematic received notions of taste, value and other connotations which the word aesthetic is also associated with. It took me back in the direction of Patti Smith and a quote from Robert Mapplethorpe in her book Just Kids. While discovering his own aesthetic and making decisions about his work that Smith didn’t like she asked him what he was thinking. His response was: “I don’t think… I feel.”

Where does this get me in defining and refining the aesthetic at play in my own work? With 25 draft poems towards my collection, in various states of completion, I can see a shape forming through them. In some places it is clearly visible, in others shifting, in a few it is barely perceptible. I’m not sure how I am going to realise this shape yet and make it tangible but I am feeling my way through it with a little more knowledge than before.

It’s not a pigeonhole – it’s a carrier pigeon.

Athens International Creative Writing Summer School

Ever fancied a life of travel and writing? Well some of our MFA teachers will be living that life this summer and you can too. Kingston Writing School and the British Council are proud to announce the International Creative Writing Summer School in Athens, Greece from 17 June – 13 July 2013. This program of two and four week sessions are open to everyone. Download the application here.

MFA tutors who will be teaching are: Rachel Cusk, Jane Yeh, Fiona Sampson, James Miller, Jonathan Barnes and Adam Baron. Additionally, other sessions will be led by Siobhan Campbell, Paul Perry and Todd Swift who all teach at Kingston University and supervise dissertations. You can find out more about the tutors by clicking on the links to their author profiles or by visiting the staff page of the Kingston Writing School website.

Athens International Creative Writing School


Access the invitation as a PDF here.

Find out more on the British Council website or on the Kingston Writing School website.


Paul Maliszewski – 16 April 7:30pm

Paul Maliszewski flyer

Join the Facebook event here.

Read more about Paul in his writer profile.

Fiona Sampson and James Miller Reading

We are excited to announce that two Kingston MFA teachers, Fiona Sampson, Senior Researcher, and James Miller, Senior Lecturer, will be doing a free, public event this Wednesday at Waterstones Piccadilly in London. This is the second in a reading series. The premier event featured Rachel Cusk and Jane Yeh and was received rave reviews from attendees. You are all invited to come to the event. If you are a prospective student, this will be a great opportunity to meet some lecturers and current Kingston students. Please see below to book a free ticket.


An Evening with Fiona Sampson and James Miller

10 April 2013, 7:00pm

Waterstones Piccadilly

203/206 Piccadilly

London W1J 9HD


Here’s the official blurb:

Waterstones Piccadilly and Kingston Writing School are proud to present an evening with of readings with leading poet Fiona Sampson and novelist James Miller. Join us for a glass of wine and hear Fiona Sampson read from her new book ‘Coleshill’ and novelist James Miller read from his second novel, ‘Sunshine State.

Tickets are free but all places must be reserved in advance by contacting the store on 02078512400 or emailing

An Evening with Fiona Sampson & James Miller


Find out more at the Waterstones Piccadilly website or the Kingston Writing School website.

Jonathan Barnes

Jonathan Barnes

Jonathan Barnes is the author of two novels, The Somnambulist (2007) and The Domino Men (2008), which have, between them, been translated into eight languages. A writer-in-residence at Kingston University, he contributes regularly to the Times Literary Supplement and the Literary Review. He is also the author of a number of full-cast audio dramas including Sherlock Holmes: The Adventure of the Perfidious Mariner and the forthcoming Doctor Who: Persuasion and The Ordeals of Sherlock Holmes.

His official website is He blogs, occasionally, at and tweets, even more occasionally, as @jbarneswriter.

Jonathan is a Writer-in-Residence at Kingston University. He taught a Critical Reading session on 13 November 2012 and a Teaching and Writing Workshop on 19 February 2013. Back in October of 2011 he gave NoDeadWhiteMen a reading list that you can read here, but we’ve made him do it again.


Jonathan’s Recommended Reading

Some fiction:

At the Chime of a City Clock and Secondhand Daylight by D J Taylor – A pair of wonderful crime stories, set in the 1930s and inspired by the rackety life of the writer Julian MacLaren-Ross.

The Possessions of Doctor Forrest by Richard T Kelly – The finest piece of twenty-first century gothic fiction that I have read to date.

Blood and Water and other tales by Patrick McGrath – Superb, grisly short stories from another master of contemporary gothic.

The Lifeboat by Charlotte Rogan – Touching, exciting, ultimately profound – a story of survival after a disaster at sea.

Wonder Boys by Michael Chabon – Perhaps the perfect campus comedy.

The Great God Pan by Arthur Machen – Distinctive, fascinating and weird – a dark fruit of the fin de siècle

Some non-fiction:

Damn His Blood: Being a True and Detailed History of the Most Barbarous and Inhumane Murder at Oddingley and the Quick and Awful Retribution by Peter Moore – A work of popular history – and the most purely thrilling book that I’ve read in a long while.

The English Ghost by Peter Ackroyd – A collection of real (?) ghost stories from English history which possesses a strange cumulative power.

The War Against Cliché by Martin Amis – Amis is a divisive figure but this is fine, inspiring criticism, written in prose of a very high order.

2013/2014 Semester Dates

For all students continuing on the MFA part-time, the semester dates for the 2013/2014 academic year are available in the PDF document at the link below.

2013-2014 Semester Dates

Me, My Voice and I

Lisa Davison is an editor by day and fiction writer/Kingston MA student by spare time. She is currently writing her first novel and was published in the 2012 edition of Kingston’s student anthology, Ripple. She blogs at and tweets as @LisaJaneDavison. She loves cats and paper.


I was having a drink with a friend a while back when the subject of my blog came up. I’m always surprised to discover that someone has willingly read my online ramblings, but it prompted an entirely unexpected conversation that got me thinking about voice.

Although complimentary about the blog itself my friend said ‘It made me think I didn’t know you.’ There was a hint of sadness in the way she said it, as if we had somehow drifted so far apart that the person she was reading bore no resemblance to the person she thought she knew.

It’s natural that people glide in and out of your life, especially as you get older – life has a nasty habit of getting in the way. What threw me was that this is someone I speak to every week and while we don’t see each other as much we would like, we do manage to get together at least once a month.

I couldn’t get her comment out of my head. Was I so different now? Had I kept more of myself back than she realised? How had I not noticed this happening?

Meanwhile, a few days before, my sister had been on Facebook and posted the following:  ‘Who says you can’t learn something new about someone you have known 34years… an end of book dance?!? I never knew Lisa Davison did that!’

I repeated this to my friend as a way of saying ‘See! Even my own family hasn’t a clue!’

But as we sat chatting, it struck me – the person she and my sister are reading isn’t precisely me. It not that I’m lying when I write – I’m afraid I did indeed do an end-of-book dance as a child – it’s just that I’m choosing to highlight certain aspects of my personality in order to create a role.

And the more I considered this, the more I realised how much of my time is spent creating these roles through voice. The me on Facebook is not the same as the me on Twitter. The professional corporate journalist me is not the same as the fiction writer me who is busy trying to get in the head of a 20-something man living through the Second World War as a conscientious objector. None of these voices are ‘me’ and yet cannot help but contain elements of me-ness since I created all of them.

So, with all these voices in my head, I was particularly interested to watch the latest series of the BBC arts show Imagine, which interviews artists, writers, musicians about their creative processes. I love any programme that peels back a little bit of the mystery around how other writers write, and so the interview with crime fiction writer Ian Rankin was of particular interest. What fascinated me most was his relationship with his fictional detective Rebus. He has Rebus grow up on the same street as him and locates his detective in an Edinburgh that clearly Rankin knows very well, and yet he told Imagine presenter Alan Yentob that if the two men ever met, they would not get on. They could chat about music and beer for a few minutes, he said, but ultimately, Rebus would want to pick a fight with him. Rebus both is and isn’t Ian Rankin.

Because in the end, we’re all multiple voices. It’s what makes us interesting and complicated as human beings. The trick for any writer is, of course, to blend just the right mixture of those voices in order to create truly three-dimensional characters that readers care about as if they were real.

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