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!

Jumping the Shark: Knowing When to Say ‘The End’

“I loved Grey’s Anatomy until I realised I hate it.”

A friend of mine and I were discussing our favourite television programmes recently when she came out with that little gem. Then we were off on a rant about how shows can start so well, be so compelling and then one evening as you settle into the couch you realise that you don’t even like your favourite programme anymore.

  • Grey’s Anatomy went from being a comedy/drama about a young woman struggling to both fulfill and reject her familial legacy to a mess of explosions, mass shootings, plane crashes, natural disasters and anything else that could hike up drama to obscure the lack of plot.
  • 24 went from the story of a day in the life of a counterintelligence agent pushing the boundaries to stop a terrorist attack to the same thing, over and over and over again.
  • The Inbetweeners went from the coming of age story of four boys at school to…oh, wait. That’s exactly what it was.

People often lament that US television shows go on for too long and fizzle out whereas UK programmes ‘leave the viewers wanting more.’ But do we actually want more? I think not.

We may feel we want more, because Tuesday nights just won’t be the same without the characters we have come to love. Because we crave more of the laughs or the tears or the shocks the writers have delivered. But what we really love is the story. And it’s important to know when a story is over.

In Grey’s Anatomy, the story is: will the aspiring surgeon succeed or will she fall prey to her inner demons? She’s succeeded. She’s a surgeon, she’s got the guy, they’ve built the house of their dreams, she’s triumphed over difficulties in getting pregnant, for goodness sakes, she even owns the hospital now. The answer is there. The story is over. A long time over.

24 was a great premise: one day, 24 hours and the problem that one character faces in that time. Except then they did it again and again, year after year with the same protagonist and the same problem. That’s not a story, there is no character development when the protagonist just repeats the same actions every season. Plus, it’s just ridiculous that one character would single-handedly need to resolve that many terrorist attacks, and all in exactly 24 hours.

And, now, we come to hailed success stories like The Inbetweeners and How I Met Your Mother. Why do these shows work? Because they have limited scope. There is a point when they end. The inbetweener boys finish school and Ted, presumably meets his kids’ mother.

All this to say that it is time for me to jump the shark. It has been a great year for me on No Dead White Men. I have enjoyed working with all the tutors, with our outgoing MFA director, Scott Bradfield, and my talented and dedicated cohort colleagues who took time out to write fantastic articles all year. They have written about varied topics from translation to procrastination, from teaching to reading and everything in between.

As we move on and a new cohort steps in, we think about beginning new scenes, new projects and bringing the old ones to a close. Because those endings are so very important and the ending is the hardest part to write because, in many ways, it defines the whole story.

So we’re going to end simply, with a thank you for reading and a hope that we haven’t gone on quite long enough to make you hate us.

Don’t forget to keep visiting No Dead White Men as it is taken over by the 2013/2014 MFA cohort and they tell their own, new story. I am sure they will be fantastic and have lots of interesting thoughts to share.

Thank you all for your loyal readership and support.

Your faithful 2012/2013 Editor,

Sinéad Keegan

New Facebook Address

That’s right, our page now has enough love and followers that Facebook has deemed us worthy of our own address. You and everyone else in the world can now find us at:

www.facebook.com/KingstonMFA

Don’t forget to “like” us.

Oh! The excitement of it all.

Artwork by Alaa El Fadel

Reviewing the Book Review: Crawling at Night by Nani Power

Alaa El Fadel is finishing her MFA in Creative Writing, working on a fantasy novel and a screen adaptation. Her blog is Mountain Quill.

The passage through the mountainous regions of craft has left me with a permanent love of literature and the arts. Wonder, spirit, boundless imaginings – those are the things that are worth writing about.

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When I was studying book reviews with my students, I pointed out that some critics only review books they liked. In literary terms I don’t believe this is healthy. Reviewing books you don’t like can deepen understanding of yourself and literature in general. What worked and what did not work to appeal to your interests as a reader? Having said that, here is the review I wrote on Nani Power’s Crawling At Night:

Crawling at NightOk so I’m reviewing this book… well… hmmm. Honestly this is a very difficult book to review and you will know why in a bit.

Crawling at Night by Nani Power was chosen for an undergrad class I was teaching. The story revolves around the characters of Ito, an ageing Sushi chef and Mariane, an alcoholic waitress, whose lives intermingle with several other characters in bizarre twists of fate. Power’s story is emotionally grasping as we are absorbed by the character’s choices and history. With a non-linear structure, the past and present fracture to unfold the horrors of why Ito and Mariane are the way they are. Sympathy grows for each character as more is revealed about them. Secondary characters are quite realistic and entertaining as they clash with Ito and Mariane.

Power uses several techniques including fracturing text, capital letters, italic and bold formats for specific sentences or words, 3rd and 1st points of view, flashbacks, dramatic irony and foreign names and words. The post powerful technique was the use of lists. With an introduction to how lists dominate our lives, food items and other things are listed at the beginning of each chapter. Sometimes, the last item kicks the curious cat, like ‘Sleep’ or ‘Tears.’ It’s a lot of fun to check things off the list and figure out how they play a part in the story. Like menus, the novel begins and ends with a list, enclosing all the information a customer needs in between. All of these elements would classify Crawling at Night as an experimental book.

Empirical books such as this are always fascinating; they challenge our perceptions of novels and question the novel form. After all, the original meaning of novel meant ‘something new.’ (Dictionary.com).

The page before the first list explains the term ‘crawling at night.’ Night crawling or Yobai is the practice of an unknown man crawling into a woman’s futon for anonymous copulation. Yup, you read right… If the woman rejects the man, the man saves himself from embarrassment by wearing a cloth to cover his face. He simply, crawls away without being identified.

Wrapped within the sushi roll of the plot, a dominant theme of coition is read in excruciating detail with intimate moments between characters and the defilement of innocents. The novel becomes emotionally draining and difficult to continue. In two hours, I read three consented couplings and two forced ones.

I could not believe this book was in the syllabus, but I understand why it was. The novel has two major sides to it – the story and the distinguishing literature. As a story, I felt quite sad and uncomfortable after finishing it. It did not leave me with wonder or satisfaction. However, when looking at the prose, the novel was a masterpiece in writing. To write proper and effective back-stories is a difficult skill for writers to perfect and Power’s does it fantastically. The dynamic plot drip feeds the truth without losing our interest, all the way to the very last list. If you can stomach the events then this is a book to learn from as a flourishing writer. But Crawling At Night is not the only book with well written back story and is certainly not the last one we can learn all these techniques from. This is not a matter of censorship but one of personal choice. So the question remains – is it worth trading skills you can get some place else for emotional disturbance?

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 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

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!

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