Friday, September 26, 2014

Twenty Five Years of Creative Writing at Edge Hill University: 25 Poets an introduction

Alice Lenkiewicz Reading at the Tate Gallery
Yes, 25 years. The Creative Writing MA began in 1989 (started by former colleague Mike Hughes) and this milestone is worth noting and celebrating, not least of all because this means the programme pre-dates the massive expansion in the subject in the 1990s (which the university was also an important part of). Edge Hill was proudly early in the field. The MA – subsequently led by Jenny Newman and supported by Pam Jackson (and for a while John Simons and Gill Davies) – has been led by myself since 1996. In the nineties Robert Graham led the BA and later Ailsa Cox and Daniele Pantano pushed that on from a minor subject to become a single honours BA. PhD candidates thrive and now there are seven members of staff, counting Ailsa and myself: Peter Wright, Billy Cowan, James Byrne, Kim Wiltshire, and Rodge Glass, the latest BA Programme Leader. (Access our profiles here.) The £5,000 Edge Hill Prize is awarded annually by Edge Hill University for excellence in a published single author short story collection and is administered by Ailsa.

Former students of the MA have gone on to PhD programmes and others have published widely. One student, Carys Bray, won the Scott Prize for the Short Story, and recently her novel A Song for Issy Bradley was published to acclaim by Hutchinson (and was a Radio 4 Book at Bedtime, and was short listed for the Costa). Another graduate, Carol Fenlon, won the Impress Prize. Others publish regularly, such as Clare Massey (now Dean) who featured in the Salt Best Short Stories and in Nicholas Royle’s Nightjar pamphlet series. Poets Alice Lenkiewicz, Debbie Walsh and Joanne Ashcroft had their MA Manuscript work published whole, the last two as still-available pamphlets from Knives, Forks and Spoons. Matt Fallaize also published pamphlets from Erbacce and KSF, including Delete Recover Delete. Angela Keaton has work out from Erbacce too. Joanne Ashcroft went on to win the Purple Moose Prize, part of which involved the publication of the winning entry as a pamphlet, Maps and Love Songs for Mina Loy, by the leading Welsh press Seren. Anthony Keating’s The Ghost Orchard appeared in 2013. Andrew Taylor published his first full-length collection Radio Mast Horizon from Shearsman in 2013, after publishing many pamphlets. Many others too have published stories and poems in magazines and pamphlets. There are annual scholarships for student poets, too, the Rhiannon Evans Award, but also Creative Awards. Joanne Ashcroft and Laura Tickle won the former. Adam Hampton the latter (see here).

Former PhD graduates include the well-known innovative poets cris cheek and Scott Thurston.

 To celebrate this I am publishing the work of 25 poets who were formerly (or are currently) students of Edge Hill University.

All 27 (I know: I'm beyond my limit! but that's good) poets are here (you can read the lower case names at the end of each link with two at the end with their own joint link):

(suddenly raw links don't seem to work anymore. It's lazy blogging anyway, so here's the last few as links:

Jason Argleton here.
Bill Bulloch here
Anthony Arnott here
Steven Fletcher here.
Leigh Harlett here.
Anthony Keating here.

Plus Elio Lomas and Luke Thurogood in collaboration with text and performance here.

Angela Keaton reading at the Walker Gallery in Liverpool

I aim to post a new poet every week for six months.

I thought it might be instructive to list the poets who have visited Edge Hill to fructify the writing of poetry. 

Rose Theatre poetry readings (1998-2015): Aaron Williamson, cris cheek, Tom Raworth, Geraldine Monk (twice), Alan Halsey, Lawrence Upton, Adrian Clarke, Dell Olsen, Rupert Loydell, Maggie O’Sullivan (thrice), Jerome Rothenberg, Scott Thurston (twice), Michael Egan, Neil Addison, Sandeep Parmar, John James, Harriet Tarlo, Lee Harwood (thrice), Allen Fisher (twice), Iain Sinclair, Peter Jaeger, Tim (‘bad hair’) Atkins, Robert Sheppard (twice, once each century), Zoë Skoulding, Cliff Yates, James Byrne, Bill Griffiths, Ken Edwards, Chris McCabe, Rob McKenzie, Erin Moure, Ian Seed, Tony Keating; Jo Blowers danced.

The North West Poets Anthology Sculpted was launched at the Rose with readers (not including some listed above) such as Dinesh Allarajah, Cath Nichols, Lindsey Holland. (though that's from memory).

Members of the Poetry and Poetics Group read frequently, such as Dee McMahon, Alice Lenkiewicz, Joanne Ashcroft, Angela Keaton and Andrew Taylor, at various points, and - as my photos above show - not all these Edge Hill readings were on-site. See here for my 2009 celebrations for the tenth anniversary of the PPRG. 

When funds permitted the Open Meetings of the PPRG welcomed: Simon Perril, Cath Nichols, Ian Davidson, Jeff Hilson, Allen Fisher, John Goodby, John Seed, Carrie Etter.
Roy Fisher read for the MA and this was a public event. Other visitors to particular modules have opened up their work to poetics scrutiny, from Tom Jenks to Eleanor Rees, from Andrew Taylor to John James (that’s the occasion I wrote my poem ‘Yet Another Poem’), from Alan Halsey to Georgia Scott.

The 2013 Literary Collaboration Symposium brought a number of poets into the PPRG remit.

(This list, of course, omits the other kinds of writer often appearing at Edge Hill. All those short story writers visiting on the back of the Edge Hill Prize.)

Another Edge Hill (First year students in Freshers' Week) blog is Peggysblueskylight here

And the latest news is that The Black Market Review founded by Daniele Pantano but edited by a committee of students is to be continued after a brief hiatus. Read the lastest edition here
(The final summing up Edge Hill Poets post (May 8th 2015) may be read here.)
Details of the MA in Creative Writing here.

Find out more about this blogzine, Pages, here.

Robert Sheppard