stuff to check out

Here the details of a workshop some of you might be interested in:

Date: Friday, March 14, 2014, from 10 am to 5 pm

Where: Grove House on the main campus of Roehampton University, London

What: A HEA discipline workshop series focussing on MODULAR FORM: WRITING IN CREATIVE PRACTICE

Focus: ReWrite, the Centre for Research in Creative and Professional Writing at Roehampton University, in conjunction with Writing-PAD and partly funded by the HEA are delighted to hold a one-day symposium on the subject of “modular form.” We have invited practitioners from a diverse range of fields, including digital writing, performance art, curatorial studies, poetry, music, and psychoanalysis, to discuss the deployment of short and/or minimal units of text.

Who is it for and what will attendees get from the day: The event will be of interest to creative writers, post-graduate students, and academics in literary and art-based subjects, and it will provide a forum for the discussion of recent multi- and inter-disciplinary developments in creative writing practice and theory.

Programme: CONTRIBUTORS AND TEXTS (session times TBC)
•J.R. Carpenter, “Seven Short Talks About Islands …And By Islands I Mean Paragraphs.” J.R. Carpenter is a Canadian artist, writer, researcher, performer and maker of maps, zines, books, poetry, short fiction, long fiction, non-fiction, and non-linear, intertextual, hypermedia, and computer-generated narratives. She lives in South Devon, England.<>
•Vincent Dachy, “Free Associations! Or Weaving with the Wind.” Vincent Dachy acts as the spokesperson of VDcollective (<>), a front for Discreet Ventures in art DIY. He also practices and teaches Lacanian psychoanalysis in London.
•James Davies, “Minimalism and Modularity.” James Davies is the author of Plants (Reality Street) and, with Simon Taylor under the moniker Joy as Tiresome Vandalism, Absolute Elsewhere (The Knives Forks and Spoons Press). In 2008 he co-founded The Other Room poetry series in Manchester with Tom Jenks and Scott Thurston. Also in 2008, he set up his poetry press if p then q. He is currently studying for a PhD in Creative Writing at The University of Roehampton with a particular focus on minimalist poetry.
•Rupert Loydell and Kingsley Marshall, “CONTROL & SURRENDER. Eno Remixed: Collaboration & Oblique Strategies.” Rupert Loydell is Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing at Falmouth University. He is particularly interested in process and collaborative writing, and has several books of collaborative poems and poem-sequences in print, as well as volumes of his own solo writing such as his recent volume Wildlife (Shearsman, 2011), Encouraging Signs, a book of interviews and essays (Shearsman 2013) and Ballads of the Alone, a series of poem sequences about specific photographers, seeing, language and being. Kingsley Marshall is the Head of Film & Television at Falmouth University. His academic research primarily orientates around the use of sound (including music and effects) in film, and the cinematic representation of the real, including historical figures and events. He has contributed to two books that consider the representation of US presidents in cinema, both published by Palgrave Macmillan. As a musician, he has recently begun work on the sound design and score for a poetic documentary. Together with Rupert Loydell, he has recently written about collaboration, chance and the Oblique Strategies for Brian Eno: Oblique Music, due for publication through Continuum in 2014.
•Kaja Marczewska, “Modular form as a Curatorial Practice.” Kaja Marczewska is in the final stages of her PhD (hoping to submit in June 2014) at the Department of English at Durham University. Her research, and publications to date, focus on notions of authorship, originality and creativity as influenced by the contemporary digital culture and contemporary modes of information dissemination. Her work is situated at the intersection of cultural theory, avant-garde poetics and aesthetic, and intellectual property law.
•Nathan Walker, “Six Words Short: Textual Instruction Events.” Nathan Walker is an artist, curator and writer. His work and research investigates writing and speaking in performance. He is interested in digital, conceptual and durational writing practices. His artworks exist as live performances, bookworks, online projects, sound poetry and video. He has performed and exhibited nationally and internationally, and he is co-director of the performance art organisation OUI Performance.  He is currently Senior Lecturer in Performance at York St John University.

Booking Details: The symposium is free but places are limited, so please book early to avoid disappointment. The event includes a catered lunch. To book a place, please contact Julia Noyes

Contact Details: Dr. Peter Jaeger, Director of ReWrite, the Centre for Research in Creative and Professional Writing

Last week I was lucky enought to attend the Happenings & Knowledge Promenades: working cross discipline workshop at the Arts University Bournemouth. It had been promised that the workshop would explore “the value and potential of cross discipline collaborative activities and the dynamism of the Happening and the ‘knowledge promenade’ in learning and teaching”, and it really delivered.

The graphics studio, which was to be our base for the day’s activities, had been overtaken with a large labyrinth on a floor cloth augmented with little electronic tea lights, and we were invited to walk this art work at any time of the day – as long as we didn’t take our beverages further than the christmas tree branches playfully demarking its outer edge (no drinks beyond the treeline).


The Labyrinth in the Graphics Studio (and Kirsten in the background)

Hosted by Kirsten Hardie it was introduced by short Pecha Kucha presentations to set us up for a day that was built around four sessions, which explored different aspects of disruption of the traditional methods and spaces of teaching. And while each of the examples was based in a particular discipline, great care and attention was taken to get us participants started to think about the cross disciplinary potential of what we were experiencing.

The order in which I ended up doing the sessions led me from the contemplative to the disruptive, which turned out to be just right for the day.

I started with Labyrinth making and walking facilitated by Jan Sellers. Here we learnt to draw some basic ‘classic’ labyrinth ourselves and thought about the meditative qualities that even the drawing has. We then ventured outside to do a collaborative one with chalk, which we then ran (we didn’t have the time to walk it, and actually that little run was absolutely hilarious). Jan gave us some more reading materials and resources to take home, for example the link for the Labyrinth Society and the Labyrinth Locator


Starting the Seed Pattern for our outdoor labyrinth

I then joined Becoming through Music facilitated by Laura Ritchie, where each of the participants found themselves with a cello in one hand and a bow in the other (yes, an actual cello), learning to plug and then play some simple notes. (Note the mnemonic: Active Dreams Give Courage to remember which string is which). In the end I could play an almost recognisable rendition of Twinkle, Twinkle, Litte Star. But of course the important aspect of the session was to reflect on what it is like to be a learner yourself (something every teacher should be reminded of every once in a while), how sometimes ‘giving it a go’ can be both scary and exhilirating, and how important non-verbal communication can be (we also did some cello playing as a group).

After lunch I joined in Clive Holtham’s session on the Knowledge Promenade – walking and recording, where we explored ‘learning by walking about’ (or the dérive, to give it a more academic sounding term). Again we learned about this more by doing, exploring the campus as small groups who had lost their memories about all knowledge of the nature and workings of a university, trying to make sense of this alien environment. The narrative our group came up with was an intriguing conspiracy of some sort of institution obsessed with the colour red, trying to indoctrinate us (it did make sense in the moment). Again, Clive shared some resources with us to allow us to find out more about this intriguing method of exploration and above all noticing. (In that way quite close to the long short walk I experienced at the HEA conference in Brighton in May.)

My last session of the day was Happening with Gordon Ramsey. Here we shared in groups things we had already done that could be considered disruptive – productively surprising students and introducing a new energy into traditional lecture and seminar settings. When he first briefed this, I though to myself: I haven’t done any of that!, but surprisingly once I started thinking about it, I could come up with a short-ish list… some of the stuff already documented on this blog. We then went on to consider what task we could set students that would be so memorable that they would never forget it – and again there were some interesting ideas thrown about.

Unfortunately the day was over all too soon (as these events so often are). What was particularly valuable was that it allowed an insight into practices from a wide range of disciplines, all of which with the potential to be built into other disciplines (most obvious with Clive’s session, where he also shared how this has already spread from management to health). It was a memorable day that provided food for thought for a long time to come!

After the recent link to the beautiful graphical music notations, I have kept noticing more blogs on visualising content, though in this case more written structures. Frances Kelly thinks about Metaphors for Thesis Writing, while Emily Temple has collected Famous Authors’ Handwritten Outlines for Great Works of Literature. Both great examples of how visualising the content can help you develop a structure that makes sense for your reader.

If you are interested in infographics of any kind, you might really enjoy reading this feature on The Guardian webpage. Written by Tom Phillips it looks at what can probably be best termed as ‘alternative’ muscial notations. Make sure you also check out the ‘Graphic Scores In pictures’ section, where you can not only see some extraordinary scores, but also find some links to hear them performed and learn more (the wonder of hyperlinks).

So, I was doing something else, but in my research, I came across this amazing project on The Guardian website and I thought I would share it here (also so that I won’t forget about it).

The idea of representing the structure of a book in three dimensions is, of course, not new – I mean artist’s book makers do this routinely, but I like the cross-over of literary work and model making. It also reminded me of both the tunnel books and, of course, the poem houses we have been making at some of the Writing in Creative Practice workshops.

And thinking of the structure of writing as having a shape is something that can be incredibly useful when writing. I have been sketching models of how my research is organised for both my Masters and my PhD – and in a way am doing something similar with the quilt (which is the thing I was doing when I was getting sidetracked, so more on my progress on that in a future post). I know that Pat Francis encourages her students to describe the shape of their writing to identify more clearly where they are going – is it a Christmas tree? is it an hourglas? is it a number of blocks that are fitting together like a dry-stone wall (or do they need to be moved and shaped slightly to make the fit work)? – and seeing how the argument develops and where the evidence is presented.

Right, just thought I would share this. Going back to work now…

And another link…

As you know I have been working with some colleagues on different ways of getting the Fishscale concept out into the open. And I am happy to announce that the chapter I have been working on with Geoff Walton is about to be published in the Only Connect (un)book. Find out more about the whole book from this brief introduction by Emma Coonan, one of the editors. (Look out for two fabulous illustrations by Josh Filhol, who is working with me on illustrating this concept!)

And yes, it also includes another chapter from me that was written as one of the Tactile Academia booklets – The Winning Hand of Independence – first featured at the Writing in Creative Practice workshop in Ayr.

This morning this link ended up in my twitter feed, and I thought I would share it with you. There might be something to be said for re-designing standard forms to appear a bit more friendly – surely this peer support plan could easily be adpated to make a more accessible appraisal form, or to put the peer observation process in a different light (oh so dreaded by some, but so useful at the same time).

The use of the recipe is also something that is a very good genre to think about. I’m reminded of an interesting section in Richard Sennett’s The Craftsman (2009), where he talked about different ways of recipe ‘writing’. But also about an activity that Pat Francis sometimes does in her workshops: using a blank recipe card to describe ‘what made you’, which is a really fun way of reflecting on the skills you have, use – and maybe also need.

Thanks to Andrew Walsh (@andywalsh999) for tweeting this from the IFLA World Library and Information Congress.