Diagrams by Alison Gibb

A word from MFA alumna and Kingston Writing School Emerging Writer in Residence, Alison Gibb:

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

Silent Diagrams Cover

I am pleased to inform you that my latest work, Silent Diagrams, a pamphlet collection of poetry and drawings, has recently been published by Knives, Forks and Spoons Press.

Silent Diagrams is a series of pencil drawing over a single poem. The drawings document my process of visualizing poetic activity to create diagrams, which illustrate and generates spaces for live performance.  The diagrams were originated during the development of Thus in the crossing, a poetic dance performance in collaboration with choreographer, Elaine Thomas.

Thus in the crossing was recently performed at E:Poetry 2013 & at the Practice, Process and Paradox Conference 2013 at Roehampton University.

For further info on Silent Diagrams please visit Knives, Forks and Spoons Press.

 

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If you’re an MFA student or alumus/a keep us updated on your success!
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Summer Reading Series at the Rose Theatre: 10 July 2013 Event

Frog Prince Communication

MFA student Vivienne Raper has been hard at work with several other students and the Rose Theatre in Kingston-upon-Thames to organise a brilliant series of public readings beginning on the 10th of July in the Rose Theatre’s Culture Cafe. The series will kick off with N M Browne reading on the theme of transformations. Short stories, poetry and other short forms of writing on this theme are welcomed from the public! Email vivienneraper@gmail.com to book your open mic slot or turn up on the day to see if there are still spaces left. Pieces should be no longer than 5 minutes in length.

Not to worry if you can’t make this event, there will be events in August, September and October with headline readers and Writers-in-Residence Kayo Chingonyi, Mark Barrowcliffe and MFA lecturer James Miller and open mic slots every month.

This is a wonderful opportunity to meet writers, get involved with Kingston Writing School and to get public exposure if you’re a writer, yourself!

Kingston Connections 2013

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Kingston Connections starts in The Rose Theatre Kingston today. An exciting collaboration between the university, Royal Borough of Kingston, The Rose and Creative Youth, we are offering a heady mixture of dance, talks, poetry, theatre, music, writing workshops, science discussions. There’s even the chance to be part of a psychology experiment. Come along and join in!

Highlights today include a talk on genes (10:30am), a poetry reading (12:00pm) and a free workshop on self-publishing (5:30pm).

The full programme (as a PDF) and booking information is available on the Rose Theatre website.

MFA lecturers, tutors and writers in residence to be featured include:

Monday, 24 June 2013, 3:30-5:30pm, Rose Theatre – novelists Adam Baron & James Miller in conversation. Why Do You Write?

Tuesday, 25 June 2013, 12:00-1:00pm, Rose Theatre – poet Jane Yeh reads with Emily Berry.

Tuesday, 25 June 2013, 6:00-7:00pm, Rose Theatre – author Courttia Newland discusses how he has used his own life in his fiction. Life Writing: A Life in Fiction: autobiography and the novel. **Editor’s note: We regret to announce that Courttia’s talk has been cancelled. There are still lots of great events on this week, though, so get thee to Kingston!

Kingston students, alumni and staff can get free or reduced admission to most events!

Georgia Fitch: Playwright, Radio Scriptwriter and Screenwriter

Georgia Fitch

Georgia Fitch is an East London-born playwright. She began her career as an actress and started writing in order to create more interesting roles that represented the women she knew. Initially, Georgia partnered with Tracy O’Flaherty and they had their first major success with The Footballer’s Wife (1997). Georgia has since independently written numerous plays for the stage and radio as well as a television drama. She is most well-known for Adrenalin Heart (2002) which premiered at the Bush and then went on to be performed at the Tokyo Theatre Festival in 2004.

Georgia was  Writer in Residence at the Bush Theatre, London, with O’Flaherty in 2001. In 2004, she was Writer in Residence at BBC Radio. From 2006 to 2008, she was on attachment to the Royal Court and Soho Theatre. She is currently Writer-in-Residence at Kingston University.

Her most recent work, Blair’s Children, co-written with April de Angelis, Anders Lustgarten, Mark Norfolk and Paula Stanic, opened at The Cockpit Theatre, Marylebone on 05 June 2013 and runs until 21 June 2013. You can find more information and purchase tickets for Blair’s Children here.

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Bibliography:

Plays:

Blair’s Children – The Cockpit Theatre, 2013

Fit and Proper People – Soho Theatre/RSC, 2011

Dirty Dirty Princess – National Theatre, New Connections, 2009

I Like Mine with a Kiss – Bush Theatre, 2007

Adrenalin  Heart – Bush Theatre, 2002,2004

Alone – Etc Theatre, 2000

Arrivals – Old Red Lion, 1999

Come Dancing – (Co-written with Tracy O’Flaherty) Old Red Lion, 1998

The Footballer’s Wife – (Co-written with Tracy O’Flaherty) Riverside Studios, 1997

Radio:

Up The Junction– BBC Radio 4 – 2013

The Mother of – BBC Radio 4, 2007

Untitled Lover – BBC Radio 4, 2007
Fortunes Always Hiding – BBC Radio 4, 2005

Romeo and Juliet in Southwark –  BBC, 2004

Produced in collaboration with Shakespeare’s Globe and Kingsdale School, Dulwich

Adrenalin Heart – BBC Radio 3, 2003

Television:

Darke Town – (Co-written with Lucy Catherine and Ryan Craig) BBC Drama, 2006

Other:

Dis-Assembly – (An installation created with Runa Islam) Sepentine Gallery, 2006

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Recommended Reading:

Plays to read:

A Raisin in the Sun – Lorraine Hansberry

The Visit – Fredrich Durrenmatt

Saved – Edward Bond

Whistle in the Dark – Tom Murphy

Ecstasy – Mike Leigh

Masterpieces – Sarah Daniels

Films to view:

Cathy Come Home – Ken Loach

Nil by Mouth – Gary Oldman

A Seperation – Asghar Farhadi

Source Materials:

How Plays Work – David Edgar

The Art Of Dramatic Writing – Lajos Egri

The Writers Journey – Christopher Vogler

The Hero’s Journey – Joseph Campbell

Dark nights of the Soul – Thomas Moore

The Twittering Writer

Sinéad Keegan is an Irish-born writer in the final year of her MFA at Kingston and currently writing her first novel. Her short stories and poetry and have been published in several magazines and she blogs at www.sineadkeegan.com. Twitter: @sineadkeegan. She is the editor of No Dead White Men and recently taught a course in blogging and social media for Kingston Writing School.

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When I tell people that I edit a blog for which other people write and that does fairly well in terms of hits-per-day, I usually get a look that says, “Oh, so you’re not one of those ‘writers’ who says she writes, but really just mucks around in her pajamas all day.”  But the minute I say that I use Facebook and Twitter I can see them picturing me back in my red, snowflake, flannel pajamas clutching a cup of coffee, surfing the internet for cat videos and calling it “writing”.

This is, unfortunately perhaps, untrue on several fronts. First, my snowflake pajamas aren’t flannel and I wear pink or blue tracksuit bottoms when I’m working from home. Second, I don’t drink coffee. And third, I don’t while away time on the internet. That is not to say I don’t waste time. I do. I, like all self-respecting writers, am a connoisseur of procrastination techniques. It’s just that I prefer ones that make me feel productive. I cook. I do chores – the house is never cleaner than when I’m on a deadline. I catch up on emails – has it really been 6 months since I went through my junk folder? And I read. I read a lot. In the name of research, of course.

Catherine has covered procrastination quite eloquently, however, so I won’t dwell on it. So the question that remains is: What am I doing on Twitter and Facebook then?

I’m being a writer. Honest.

Granted, I spend some of my time reading articles about writing and writers, some of dubious research value such as this one from The Onion. But for the most part, the hour a day I spend on social media is spent making and keeping connections, working with writing communities and, of course, some shameless self-promotion. Writers, if you don’t do it, no one else will.

That said, I offer some guidelines for how to shamelessly self-promote without driving your social media ‘friends’ crazy.

1. Treat your Facebook and Twitter profiles like you do your LinkedIn profile. You wouldn’t put photos of you mooning the guards outside Buckingham Palace while chugging back a plastic bottle of vodka on LinkedIn, so don’t do it on Facebook. You might well be on your way to writing The Old Man and the Sea, but don’t make us all watch, Hemingway didn’t.

2. Put up a link and leave it. I know you really want to post everything you do everywhere, but, chances are, if you do that, your friends are going to see the link 30,000 times. If I see a link from the same person more than twice, I make it a point not to look at it. Maybe that’s just spite on my part, but if you have to advertise that hard, it makes me think something else went wrong. Also re-tweeting 20 tweets at a time is irritating, it just gums up my feed with people that I don’t follow – perhaps for a reason.

3. Which brings me to the next point: Slow and steady. Yep, back to the tortoise and the hare. You have to give yourself and your reputation time to grow. The next big thing, the person with the meteoric rise to stardom and success? Most likely, it took them ages and if it didn’t, they probably won’t be around for too long.

4. Slow and steady requires consistency. Above all be consistent and reliable. Everyone, from agents, to publishers, to readers want consistency. If you blog, really blog. Don’t blog once every 2 or 6 or 14 months. Pick a time frame and stick to it. (Says she, shamefully, not having updated her own blog in over a month) If you tweet, tweet daily or weekly, but NOT hourly. You don’t have that many interesting things to say. Trust me. You don’t.

5. Build the brand. First, you have to know your brand. What are you and what do you want to be? What do you write? Who is your audience and how do you find them? Follow people like you on Twitter, find groups like you on Facebook, get in contact with bloggers like you. You can choose to look at other writers as competition or as a network. Accountants don’t refuse to speak to other accountants so why do we do that in the arts? If your writing is good enough, you can get published and if you don’t it’s not because someone else “stole your spot.” If it isn’t good enough, you (probably) won’t get published (insert your angrily shouted exceptions here). Why do those accountants network? Because it’s all about who you know. And don’t let anyone tell you otherwise: it’s the same in writing. Contacts can mean everything. Work them.

So for an hour each day, I give myself permission not to write and I sit down and think long-term. What do I want? How do I get it? How to I take a step toward that today? Then I tweet, blog or post on Facebook or just support the other people in my community, because I want them to succeed too. Success breeds success and that can only be good for our struggling arts.

J. Robert Lennon on This American Life

j robert lennon

2012 MFA Resident, J. Robert Lennon, was recently featured on an episode of the Public Radio International program, This American Life. He reads an excerpt from his short story “The Accursed Items” in episode 205: Plan B.

You can read more about J. Robert Lennon on No Dead White Men, here.

Information about the MFA Residency Series, including a description of the series and writer profiles, is available here.

Martin Daws

Martin DawsMartin Daws is a performance poet and spoken word artist. He leads community and youth workshops across the country and regularly performs his work at events around the UK and Ireland. He was declared Farrago Slam Champ twice, was runner-up for both the John Tripp Award for Spoken Poetry in 2007and the Glastonbury Festival Slam in 2008. His 2008 debut at the Edinburgh Festival earned a five star review. He has been published in numerous international journals and is the author of Skin Tight the Sidewalk, a book/CD. He is Poet in Residence at Moelyci Environment Centre, North Wales. In April 2013 Martin Daws was announced by Literature Wales as The Young People’s Laureate for Wales. In this role Martin is working with young people all over Wales developing their engagement and enjoyment with spoken word poetry. Martin blogs at www.youngpeopleslaureate.org. Follow his twitter feeds @martindaws and @yplwales.

In the late 1980s Martin began DJ-ing in London and in 1994, after experiencing the New York slam scene, he combined his passion for music and language into performance poetry. His work still retains strong ties to music, running youth workshops on creative writing and rap, and collaborating with various musicians. Notably, he has worked with dancer Sarah Mumford on the WID performance ‘Don’t Step on the Cracks’. His experimental performances with electro-acoustic composer Rob Mackay have toured four continents.

Martin is a Writer-in-Residence with Kingston Writing School and on 19 March 2013, he taught a Teaching & Writing Workshop.

More information about Martin and his work is available at his website www.martindaws.com.

 

Bibliography:

Skin Tight The Sidewalk, 2009

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Recommended Reading:

The Invisible Man – Ralph Ellison

Smokin’ Lovely – Willie Perdomo

Said the Shotgun to the Head – Saul Williams

The Wasteland – T.S. Elliot

Learning to be White – Thandeka

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!

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.]

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.

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