Celebrating 50 years of Creative Writing at UEA, in partnership with the European Association of Creative Writing (EACWP).
Friday 21 May and Saturday 22 May | Online
This online conference brought together PhD research students, Creative Writing tutors and graduates, writers and scholars to explore the varieties of practice in our discipline now, the points of convergence and contention, and, crucially, the opportunities for future development and the forces that may shape the nature of writing in the academy over the next several years.
Central to the conference was an acknowledgement of the importance of literature and drama in helping us navigate challenging moments in history.
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Keynote Speakers and special events
Bernardine EvaristoBernardine Evaristo, MBE and OBE, won the Booker Prize 2019 with her eighth book, Girl, Woman, Other, the first Black woman and Black British person to win it. The novel won many other prizes and was on the bestseller list for 44 weeks, including five weeks at #1. Her other novels are Mr Loverman, Hello Mum, Blonde Roots, Soul Tourists, Lara and The Emperor’s Babe. A literary activist, she has initiated many arts’ inclusion projects including the Brunel International African Poetry Prize and The Complete Works poetry-mentoring scheme. She is currently curating ‘Black Britain: Writing Back’, a new series with Hamish Hamilton at Penguin whereby Black British books are brought back into print and wider circulation. She is Professor of Creative Writing at Brunel University London, a lifetime Honorary Fellow at St Anne’s College, Oxford, a lifetime Vice President of the Royal Society of Literature, and the new President of Rose Bruford College of Theatre and Performance. Read more: www.bevaristo.com Image credit: TBC
Carolyn ForchéCarolyn Forché is the author of five books of poetry, the most recent In the Lateness of the World (Bloodaxe Books, 2020), and a memoir, What You Have Heard Is True (Penguin UK, 2020), a finalist for the National Book Award in the U.S. and the James Tait Black Prize in the UK. She is a visiting member of the faculty of Newcastle University, and a University Professor at Georgetown University.
John YorkeJohn Yorke is Managing Director of Angel Station where he works as a drama producer, consultant and lecturer on all forms of storytelling. A former MD of Company Pictures where he Exec Produced Wolf Hall, he’s worked as both Head of Channel Four Drama and Controller of BBC Drama Production. As a commissioning Editor/Executive Producer, he championed huge British hits such as Life On Mars, The Street, Shameless and Bodies and in 2005 he created the BBC Writers Academy, a year-long in-depth training scheme which has produced a generation of successful television writers – many who have gone on to have their own shows. The author of Into The Woods – the biggest selling screenwriting book in the UK for the last six years, about how and why we tell stories - John is a double BAFTA winner (as programme maker) and multi BAFTA winner (as commissioner). He is also Visiting Professor of English Language and Literature at the University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne. He lives in London but works as a story consultant worldwide.
Andrew CowanAndrew Cowan, is a novelist and Professor of Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia and has taught creative writing all over the world. His first novel Pig was published in 1994 and won a Betty Trask Award, the Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year Award, The Authors' Club First Novel Award, a Scottish Arts Council Book Award and the Ruth Hadden Memorial Prize and was shortlisted for five other awards. Common Ground (1996) and Crustaceans (2000) both received Arts Council bursaries. What I Know was the recipient of an Arts Council Writers' Award and was published in 2005. His creative writing guidebook The Art of Writing Fiction was published in 2011 and his fifth novel Worthless Men in 2013. His latest novel Your Fault was published by Salt in May 2019. He is currently writing a monograph, Against Creative Writing. Image credit: Martin Figura
A Journey around Our Rooms
The University of Kent hosts an interactive, online space for writers to share the spaces in which they write.
Contributors are invited to describe the room in which they work — which may include the spaces of imagination, memory, and association it opens on to. All forms are welcome, and submission of an accompanying image is encouraged. These texts will be published on a University of Kent-hosted webpage, as the beginning of an ongoing collaborative project.
In 1790, Xavier de Maistre, confined indoors under house arrest, embarked upon A Journey Around my Room. In this playful, picaresque, entirely unpredictable text, he examines his immediate environment and its contents — which are subject to fluctuations in dimension and bearing as his mood and attention changes — and he ventures out beyond its walls into the territories of speculation, memory, and daydream.
He wrote: ‘I am sure that any sensible man [or person] will adopt my system, whatever kind of character he may have, and whatever his temperament; whether he be stingy or prodigal, rich or poor, whether he was born in a torrid zone or near the Pole, he can travel just as I do; finally, in the immense family of men who swarm over the surface of the world, there isn’t a single one — no, not one (I mean of those who live in rooms) who will, after having read this book, be disinclined to endorse the new way of travelling that I am introducing into the world.’ (pp. 3-4)
This project is an invitation to take de Maistre up on his proposal.
We are, as writers, accustomed to movement, this venturing out from the space in which we work to the spaces of imagination. Yet in recent months many of us have become accustomed to a way of being, working, and writing that is more than usually restricted to that space. Rather than Virginia Woolf’s celebrated room of one’s own, many of our ‘rooms’ may be imperfect, multi-use, intruded upon, isolating, private or not private, productively shared, compromised or liberating.
For over a year now, we have been sitting in our rooms and joined a virtual space that connects those spaces together; we are used now to these thumbnail glimpses of each other’s lives and the rooms in which they are lived. We have learned that we can speak across time zones, connect across continents, each in our own room. It is likely that our experiences during the pandemic will alter our ways of working and being together indefinitely — now we know that this shared and separate space exists. Visit, https://research.kent.ac.uk/journey-around-our-rooms/ for more information, to see the pieces submitted so far and learn how you can submit a piece yourself.
The website, hosted by the University of Kent’s Centre for Creative Writing and Institute of Cultural and Creative Industries, will offer a way to remember and create enduring, ongoing insights and connections.
Amy Sackville and colleagues from the University of Kent ran a series of events and workshops across the conference weekend. Please refer to the online programme for full details.