Roehampton University runs an annual conference for practice-based research at their Centre for Research into Creative and Professional Writing. The conference’s format comprises broadly of a two-day tusslethoughtmakegood event with ‘creative practitioners’ invited ‘to come together to celebrate and query the role of the creative arts in the academy’; participants were encouraged to focus on presumed boundaries between ‘critical’ and ‘creative’ writing, the terms creative process and creative research, cross-genre and interdisciplinary approaches to research, defining and redefining creativity and innovative poetics.
The topics covered during the conference ranged from dance to the Armed Forces via scrapbooks and Capability Brown. I also won a book in a raffle, professionally. After an opportunity to read a short prose piece on the Thursday, poets Kate Potts and Nisha Ramayya and I offered a [n united onslaught in the guise of a] dictionary-based panel discussion during Friday’s session, approaching the conference’s title Practice, Process and Paradox: Creativity and the Academy through our research into dictionaries’ form and content as potential creative texts.
Other great papers, performances, workshops and addressees contributed to the two days, alongside discussions with other scholars and artists. Many thanks especially to Amber N. Koski, Elaine Thomas and Alison Gibb, Jeff Hilson and Tim Atkins, Charlotte Purkis, Tiffani Angus, Susan Greenberg and Lousie Tondeur.
Annexe Magazine set itself an exercise in curatorial trust with its recent collaborative online project XZ#1. From their guidelines:
The aim is to get inside stories and see how different writing styles can join forces to create something fresh, but recognisable. To do this, we’re taking particular genres/styles/species of fiction and breaking them down, looking under the hood and building them back up in smaller chunks.
Each story gets six writers and each writer gets one section. They are given a bare framework to work on, everything else is up to them, and they aren’t told what the other five writers are coming up with.
The genre was fixed as ‘noir’, three character names were supplied and the word-count was suggested; other than that, all five writers were given free rein. An untethered rein, too – each participant was only provided with the preceding chapter as a basis for their submission. Narrative as sandpit, so it’s interesting that the final piece Singing the Necessaries saw jawlines, bottles, cigarettes and the colour blue garner quite so much shared press.
The illustrations are also very tasty. I recommend popping on some stinking jazz and giving it a quick virtual thumb-through below. With thanks to editor Nick Murray, and the other contributors Ben Gwalchmai, Komal Verma, Akiho Schilz, Jack Swain and John Boursnell.