Kingston University MFA Anthology, Writings, launches!

Last night saw the 2013 Kingston University Creative Writing MFA anthology, Writings, launch to a packed house. With readings from eight MFA contributors, the evening was a great success. Many thanks to the staff of the Waggon and Horses for the great service and for providing a lovely venue for our event. If you were not able to attend but would still like a copy of Writings please let us know; there are a few copies left. Copies will also be added to the permanent collection at the Kingston University library, so you can check us out there!

Writings 2013

Thank you to everyone who made Writings possible this year especially: all our talented contributors who gave their time and writing; all the lecturers, tutors and writers-in-residence who worked with the MFAs over the past few years and are too numerous to list individually; Rachel Cusk, who wrote our introduction; David Rogers and everyone at Kingston Writing School for funding the project; Laura Bottomley for making sure everything ran smoothly; Alison Gibb for her advice on how to get the project started; Ryan Licata and Sinead Keegan for compiling the submissions and artwork and laying out the book; Hannes Pasqualini for the amazing artwork and cover design; Anna Jannepalli and David Wood at the Kingston University Print room for the design and printing; everyone who came out to the launch and provided support during long weeks and months of writing; and, of course, our fearless and inspiring leader, Scott Bradfield, who was the driving force behind the MFA these last few years and made this publication possible.

Happy writing!

Annual MFA Anthology, Writings…, Goes to Print, Launch Scheduled

Cover by Hannes Pasqualini, www.papernoise.net

Cover by Hannes Pasqualini, http://www.papernoise.net

 

We are excited to announce that the annual Kingston University MFA anthology, Writings…, goes to print this week. The official launch will be next week and we hope you’ll join us for a reading, drinks and a celebration of the achievements of all out MFAs. This event is free and open to the public so please join our Facebook event and invite your friends. You’ll even get a free copy of the publication!

 

 

Writings… Launch

Thursday, 30 May 2013

7pm

Waggon & Horses Pub

Surbiton, KT6 4TW

To Tweet or Not to Tweet?

Before motherhood, Emma Strong worked in legal publishing, the youth homelessness voluntary sector and local government. Currently, she’s completing her Creative Writing MFA, going backwards at Bikram and singing slink a ma rink a dinky doo with her toddlers, out of tune. Twitter with her @emmastrong72.

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To tweet or not to tweet, is a 21st century question for writers and for teachers of creative writing, in the digital age.

Vanderslice (2012) argues creative writing (CW) students, armed with key skills including telling story and empathy, are poised to dominate the online cultural landscape, if they are digitally literate. As Cross (2011) describes it, the ‘tsunami of electronic media’ has created an online ‘global village’, accessible to all. Any message, banal or profound, using no more than 140 characters, can be posted on Twitter. Introduced in 2006, by 2011 there were 200 million users a month on line, posting 140 million tweets a day.

As Cross (2011) argues, at best, Twitter creates a new frontier of expression and connection, using emoticons, abbreviations, acronyms (LOL), slang, hash-tagged trending, hive-mind #thinking and #sharing. At worst, the hive-mind can be an ungrammatical, unattractive swarm of belligerent #ranting.

Could CW students hone their reading, writing, and critiquing skills using Twitter? Could their online connections and conversations, the responses they received to their postings, be construed as formative feedback?  Or is Twitter just a narcissistic time-waster, best ignored? Guided by Race (2007) that we learn by doing and making sense for ourselves, and by Vanderslice (2005) that CW teachers should model the skills and ways of thinking they want their students to develop, way behind the curve, I became @emmastrong72.

Fellow MA/MFA students, @sineadkeegan, @lucyfurleaps and @lisajanedavison, invited me to join in a challenge they’d set up: #30days30stories. The idea was to tweet an idea for a story or tell a story, every day, for 30 days, in no more than 140 characters. Or rather, after subtracting 16 for the # link, no more than 124 characters.

Having taken time to read and study posted tweets to understand the form; I spent around twenty minutes composing my first story in tweet form. With just 126 characters to play with, careful consideration of word, image, and sentence construction was required. I had to edit and revise. It was a useful work out for me as a writer and I felt it could also be a great challenge to set as a CW teacher for students. But how was it received?

Going to @connect I could view responses. I got a retweet (RT) and a favourite (*), which I took as positive feedback. I read the others’ stories, RT-ed two and *-ed another, to share the feedback love. Seven days and 28 ideas later, the RTs, *s and comments, generous all round, provided relaxed, supportive and helpful peer feedback and engagement. Formative, in that it allowed me to see what was received well. It was also interesting to observe that across subject matter as diverse as hip hop DJs asleep for 100 years, knitting circle blood baths, and a boy scooting into hollow trees as Mrs Owl told him to, we each had a clear voice and developed our own approaches to the form.

Engaging with Twitter, as a platform for experimental literary short forms, such as the ‘Twiller’ being written by @mrichtel, influenced  by the Japanese literary subculture trend, Keitai Shosetsu (cell phone novels) (Yourgrau, 2009), feels enticing. On the downside, a rash tweet, taken out of context, could get you into trouble years after you tweet it, as Paris Brown, the short-lived youth police commissioner found out (Telegraph, 2013).

The #30days30stories exercise echoed the benefits of the traditional creative writing workshop: like-minded souls coming together in a safe place to try ideas out and share feedback. It provided a useful and fun learning environment. I was strict with my activity, to avoid losing too much time within the Twitter-sphere, going straight to the #group. In that way, I could use it as a useful 30-minute daily warm up writing exercise. A less focused engagement could risk eating up a lot of time. As a teacher, a large group of students all engaging with the exercise could be time consuming if attempting to feedback to each student every day. However, the exercise facilitates peer and teacher feedback, and doesn’t need to be given to every individual, every day. Getting an RT or a * here and there is a more discerning indicator of what works. Among four of us, we were each receiving feedback most days from at least one other participant. A larger engaged group would generate plenty of feedback for all. The teacher’s role could be more supervisory, encouraging students to engage with the exercise within boundaries aligned with those set up within their weekly workshops.

As Vanderslice (2006) argues, the three ways of thinking a creative student must develop are reading as a writer, critiquing as a writer, and writing and re-writing. A Twitter exercise such as #30days30stories could be a smart additional writing exercise for any writer, developing those three ways of thinking on a daily basis. And a daily writing habit is a habit a writer needs. If you’re up for the challenge, want to acquire a daily writerly workout, then check out #30days30stories, @sineadkeegan, @lucyfurleaps, @lisajanedavison and @emmastrong72, and #ff.


 

REFERENCES

Cross, M. (2011)  Bloggeratti, Twitterati: how blogs and twitter are transforming popular culture. KUS: i-Cat [Online]. Available at: http://ku-primo-prod.hosted.exlibrisgroup.com/primo_library/libweb/action/search.do?vid=KU_VU1&reset_config=true (Accessed: May 2013).

Ensor, J. (2013) “Paris Brown: Youth police commissioner warns of dangers of social networks as she resigns over ‘racist’ tweets”, The Telegraph, 9th April 2013 [Online]. Available at: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/crime/9982146/Paris-Brown-Youth-police-commissioner-warns-of-dangers-of-social-networks-as-she-resigns-over-racist-tweets.html (Accessed: May 2013).

JISC (2009) “Effective Practice in a Digital Age”, JISC [Online]. Available at: http://www.jisc.ac.uk/publications/programmerelated/2009/effectivepracticedigitalage.aspx/ (Accessed: March 2013).

Race, P. and Pickford, R. (2007) Making Teaching Work: Teaching Smarter in Post-compulsory Education . London: Sage.

Vanderslice, S. (2006) “Workshopping in Harper, G. (ed.) Teaching Creative Writing, 1st Edn. London and New York: Continuum.

Vanderslice, S. (2012) “A Whole New Creative Writing Classroom: Daniel Pink, Digital Culture and the Twenty-First Century Workshop” in Perry, P. (ed.) (2012) Beyond the Workshop, Kingston Upon Thames: Kingston University Press.

Yourgrau, B. (2009) “Call Me Ishmael: The End”, Salon [Online]. Available at: http://www.salon.com/2009/05/14/cellphone_fiction/ (Accessed: 13 May 2013).

[Editor’s note: All referencing done by individual authors. While every effort is made to ensure that resources are appropriately referenced, neither this website and its editor nor Kingston University accept responsibility for incorrect or insufficient citations.]

A Message from Scott Bradfield

Dear MFAers,

Thanks for one of my favorite years in higher ed, and for all the surprising (and kind) things you said in these various nominations and blog posts.  They meant a lot to me this year.

I have decided to end my Directorship of the MFA, as of this week.  It’s not a choice I make lightly.

I plan to retain my .6 position, and to be “reallocated,” so I will probably be around in the fall.  I hope to see you all soon.

Yours sincerely,

Scott Bradfield

Open Night 22 May 2013

Open Evening

Are you thinking about doing an MFA? Do you have questions about the modules, assessments, tutors, admissions process and more? Come meet current staff and students of Kingston University’s Creative Writing department from 4:30-7pm on 22 May 2013.

The event is free and will be held at the Penrhyn Road campus, Kingston upon Thames, Surrey KT1 2EE.

You do not have to attend for the full 2.5 hours; please drop by when you can!

Find out more about the event here.

Book your place here.

You can access the course booklet containing information about the MA and MFA in Creative Writing, the low residency MA and MFA in Creative Writing and the MA in Creative Writing and Pedagogy here.

Hope to see you there!

Launch of Beacons

The launch of Beacons: Stories for Our Not So Distant Future will be on Tuesday, 21 May 2013 at 6:30pm in the Piccaddilly Waterstone’s. This collection of stories features the work of top, contemporary authors, including our own James Miller and Liz Jensen.

Beacons: Stories for Our Not So Distant Future Launch

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

6:30pm

Waterstone’s

203-205 Piccadilly, W1J 9HD

London

Free & open to all

Beacons

Join the event on Facebook here.

Barrie Keeffe

Barrie Keeffe

Barrie Keeffe is a London-born dramatist and screenwriter, best-known for his screenplay for the 1981 film The Long Good Friday, starring Bob Hoskins and Helen Mirren. He began his career as an actor and journalist before turning to writing full-time in 1975. His first television play, Substitute, was produced in 1972 and his first theatre play, Only a Game, the following year. He was writer-in-residence at the Shaw Theatre in 1977, the next year, was resident playwright with the Royal Shakespeare Company, and associate writer with the Theatre Royal Stratford East from 1986 to 1991. His theatre plays have been produced in 25 countries. He has written stage plays, screenplays, radio plays, television scripts and novels.

Barrie’s accolades include The Mystery Writers of America Edgar Allen Poe Award for The Long Good Friday, Paris Critics Prix Revelation for Gotcha and the Giles Cooper Best Radio Plays Award for Heaven Scent. He was appointed a United Nations Ambassador for the 50th anniversary year in 1995 and, in 2010, he was awarded an honorary Doctor of Letters by the University of Warwick.

He has taught at City University London, the Skyros Writers Lab in Greece, the Collaldra Writers’ School and Retreat in Italy, Ruskin College Oxford and is a visiting fellow at Christ’s College, Cambridge. He is currently a Writer-in-Residence at Kingston University where he teaches on both the Creative Writing MA and MFA, and supervises dissertations.

Barrie’s screenplay, The Long Good Friday, was on the MFA Critical Reading list and, on 19 March 2013, he taught a master class on film, stage and novel writing.

 

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Selected Bibliography:

Stage plays:

Only a Game (1973)

Gimme Shelter (1977)

A Mad World My Masters (1977, 1984)

Barbarians (1977)

Sus (1979)

Black Lear (1980)

Better Times (1985)

Not Fade Away (1990)

The Long Good Friday (1997)

Shadows on the Sun (2001)

Still Killing Time (2006)

Television:

Substitute (1972)

Not Quite Cricket (1977)

Champions (1978)

Waterloo Sunset (1979)

King (1984)

Screenplays:

The Long Good Friday (1981)

Sus (2010)

Novels:

Gadabout (1969)

No Excuses (1983)

 

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Barrie Keeffe’s Recommended Reading List:

Into the Woods: A Five Act Journey into Story – John Yorke

Adventures in the Screen Trade – William Goldman

A Whore’s Profession – David Mamet

Five Screenplays: The Servant, The Pumpkin Eater, The Quiller Memorandum, The Go-Between, Accident – Harold Pinter

Crash – Ian Sinclair (The Cronenberg film)

Harold Pinter: Life and Work – Michael Billington

John Osborne: A Patriot for Us – John Heilpern

Arthur Miller: A Life – Marin Gottfried

Double Act: A Life of Tom Stoppard – Ira Nadel

Samuel Beckett: A Biography – Deirdre Bair

O’Neil: A Life with Monte Cristo – Arthur and Barbara Gelb

The Script Selling Game – Kathie Fong Yoneda

In the Frame: My Life in Words and Pictures – Helen Mirren

Being an Actor – Simon Callow

What’s My Motive? – Michael Simpkins

The End of the Affair – Graham Greene (novel)

The End of the Affair – Neil Jordan (film)

MFAs to Be Recognised at Awards and Achievements Show 2013

A&A imageWe have even more to add to the awards season news. The Creative Writing MA/MFA Awards and Achievements Show is this Wednesday at 6pm in JG 0001 on the Penrhyn Road campus. Friends and family are welcome! This show celebrates the achievements of students throughout the year and will include some readings of creative work by nominated MA students.

Also reading at this event will be three MFAs who are receiving commendations:

Ryan Licata and Citlalli Milan are being recognised for academic excellence.

Sinéad Keegan is being recognised for her contribution to the MFA program.

Please come out and support the great work of all the post graduate creative writers at Kingston University!

Congratulations to Dr. Scott Bradfield!

No Dead White Men and the students of the 2012/2013 MFA in Creative Writing cohort are thrilled to announce that our course leader, Dr. Scott Bradfield, was the recipient of a Student-led Learning and Teaching Award, last night. Scott won the Excellence in Course Development Award for all his hard work on the MFA in Creative Writing. Scott received over 20 student nominations commending his teaching, feedback, student support skills and the enthusiasm that he applies to his teaching on the BA, MA and MFA programs. The awards committee, however, were so impressed by the picture painted of the MFA program that they created a special award to recognize the amazing opportunities Scott has initiated, supported or continued for the course.

This is the first year that Kingston has had Student-led Learning and Teaching Awards. Almost 300 nominations were received, so to have won is a great honour and shows just what a brilliant job Scott does. A panel of Kingston University Students’ Union students and course representatives, and staff from the Academic Development Centre and other areas of the university sifted through all the nominations and then decided on the finalists and winners.

The event was held at the Holiday Inn by the Thames in Surbiton and included dinner and musical entertainment provided by KU music students. Winners of both student representative and staff awards, finalists and student nominees were in attendance.

After being presented with his award, Scott attributed much credit and thanks to all his colleagues in FASS and in the Creative Writing department saying that the MFA program had been created and strengthened by them all. He paid particular tribute to the work of David Rogers, Karen Lipsedge, Andrew Teverson, Adam Baron, the administrative staff who run the program and all the staff who teach on the modules and supervise dissertations.

Highlights of the MFA program at Kingston University include:

  • The opportunity to earn a PGCLTHE qualification to teach in higher education
  • The opportunity to get in-classroom teaching experience as a graduate teaching assistant
  • Weekly writing workshops in support of the dissertation
  • A module on advanced critical reading for writers
  • A module on arts employability, including the option to initiate and run a community project
  • Series of workshops on teaching from some of the top writers at Kingston University
  • The MFA Residency series where Scott brings in writers from across the UK and the top MFA programs in the US to run workshops on teaching and writing, give public readings and work with students in one-on-one tutorials. This is an opportunity not available through any other MFA program in the UK or US.
  • Personal tutorials with a top writer in support of the dissertation
  • This fantastic blog
  • An annual publication, Writings…, that compiles all MFA students’ work and a formal launch event
  • Scott’s boundless enthusiasm, his personal support and his desire to always improve the program

All this is to leave out how great a teacher Scott is, though. Here are some thoughts from his MFA students on his teaching:

I think of two things when I think of Scott:
“The boy is in a kicking situation with the ball”
“Just write the next sentence.”
I initially heard both of these gems back in 2008, the first year of my BA. I have carried these statements with me ever since and expect to continue to derive new insights from them in the years to come
.’

‘Scott teaches with a combination of straightforward constructive criticism, humour and humility. As a student in his class I genuinely feel like my time is valuable to him, and he wants to do everything possible to help me succeed. In the MFA, this has meant bringing in some of the best creative writing tutors and authors from the UK and beyond, bending over backwards to make sure each of us gets enough private tutorials to ensure we are receiving the widest variety of feedback on our work. He is also continually asking for our feedback on how to develop the course further, what would make it better, etc. His constant pursuit to make the MFA as successful as possible is what makes him a fantastic course leader and lecturer.’

‘Scott doesn’t care if you’re writing high brow literary fiction or commercial fantasy romance. His goal is to make your writing better, one sentence at a time.’

‘Scott isn’t even my dissertation supervisor, but he’s still invested in my work and takes the time to help me.’

‘Every time I think [Scott] is wrong about something, I try to do it my way and then realise that he’s right.’

‘I was in a tutorial with one of my students the other day and found myself saying to her all the things that Scott has said to me. I hope I’m as supportive, inspiring, challenging and encouraging as he is.’

As his students, we want to thank Scott for all his hard work over the past two years. It has not gone unnoticed and we are very grateful for all the time and energy he puts into the program, into us and into our writing.

Congratulations!

Dave

Find out more about the awards and see all the finalists and winners here.

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