Tag Archives: Angela France

UoG Creative Writers’ Successful Autumn

1 Nov
Flash fiction literature Crawl

Bewigged students read flash fictions at Libertine’s Barbers Shop

It’s been a busy Autumn for the Creative Writing staff and students at UoG – go team! The new academic year started with the Cheltenham Literature Festival and for the second year in a row, students did an amazing job performing flash fictions as part of the LitCrawl. The quirky show involved visitors hearing private readings of micro-fiction from bewigged performers in a barbers shop. Different!

And our course’s involvement with the Festival was cemented by drama lecturer Miranda Walker who, as this year’s Writer in Residence, starred in a range of events, including a Writing Funny workshop at Parabola Arts Centre, the Young Writers Showcase, and the Famous Five Story Trail. She also wrote the brilliant Wishing Fish Clock picture book, which sold out at its launch! (It’s on general sale, available in Regent’s Arcade and Waterstone’s, from November 11th).

Wishing Fish clock book Miranda Walker

Cover for Miranda’s Wishing Fish Clock picture book

Speaking of dramatists, huge congratulations are also due to one of our alumni, Chloe Biggs, who recently won the BBC Essex Playwright of the Year Competition. Her winning play was broadcast on the radio – go Chloe!

The Hill by Angela France cover

Cover for Angela’s poetry collection, The Hill

The poets have been busy too. Lecturer Angela France won an Arts Council Grant to tour the UK with her new collection, The Hill, which was published by Nine Arches Press in July. The book has already garnered critical acclaim, with Sheenagh Pugh writing “Everyone knows somewhere like the Hill, though few could memorialise it with such verbal energy. Exuberant, controlled, angry, elegiac, this is a poetry of landscape, politics, witness.”

Congratulations are also due to recent graduate Charlotte Appleby and current student George Helder who both had poems published in Ink, Sweat and Tears this August. And huge congratulations to two of our new first year poets: Caroline Juskus and Callie Walsh have both published poems on I Am Not A Silent Poet. I’m sure there will be many more successes to come from this bright year group!

Speaking of bright, well done to 2nd-year student Carol Hilton who has won an Ede and Ravenscroft Scholarship in a university-wide competition recognizing outstanding academic achievement. And there is exciting news from one of our MA students, Carina Mitchell, who is launching her Vineleaves Publishing business with a short story competition – more to come on that soon!

E and R-scholarships

Carol Hilton and other scholarship recipients with staff at Park Campus

Last but not least, the prose writers have been busy too. Lania Knight is celebrating the UK release of her brilliant first novel, Three Cubic Feet. You can get it here! Senja Andrejevic-Bullock, a drama lecturer wearing her prose hat, has published her short story ‘The Party’ at Storgy Magazine.

Three cubic feet

Cover for 2nd Edition of Three Cubic Feet

And it’s only fitting that we should end by celebrating the achievements of our newest member of staff, Bea Hitchman. Bea has recently been one of the judges, along with Philip Hensher no less, for the Bath Spa Flash Fiction competition ‘A Place in Words’, which challenged entrants to write a novel in 25 words. The competition attracted more than 1500 entrants from all over the world, and the prize was awarded by Jeremy Irons at a special ceremony at the London Library. Bea has also written a chapter for a forthcoming book on Sylvia Plath, ‘Plath in Context’, to be published by Cambridge Uni Press in 2018, discussing lesbian contexts for The Bell Jar (there are, she informs us, a surprising number). Congratulations to everyone!

Remember that it makes us incredibly happy to hear good news, so if you have a success to share please drop a line to mjohnstone@ you know the rest.

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UoG lecturer Angela France appointed as Cheltenham Poet in Residence

30 Oct

angelaCongratulations to poetry star Angela France who on National Poetry Day was announced as Cheltenham’s new Poet in Residence. It’s the first time Cheltenham has appointed a bard, and they couldn’t have chosen anyone better. Angela is Cheltenham born and bred, much of her previous work draws on her relationship with the town, and at present she’s working on a sequence of poems that explores the Leckhampton riots and Cheltenham’s radical past. Angela studied her MA and PhD at the University of Gloucestershire, and is now a popular member of our teaching team. She’s the author of three poetry collections and has won many prizes including the Lightship International Poetry Prize. She’s a major figure in the local poetry scene and runs the popular Buzzwords poetry evening.

Speaking to the Gloucestershire Echo, Anna Saunders, the director of Cheltenham Poetry Festival, said:

“Angela has very strong links to Cheltenham and is a major figure on the local poetry scene but is also an internationally acclaimed poet with a strong record of publishing.

“Her work isn’t comic verse or performance poetry, but it’s very accessible and it often deals with real people at its subjects; her current work celebrates the rebellious nature of Cheltenham people in a very interesting way.”

And as Angela puts it:

“Poetry still has a place. People turn to it at moments of crisis or emotion – a wedding or a funeral, so it’s still important to people.”

Angela’s formal inauguration will take place at the the Civic Mayoralty event at the Town Hall in May.

Angela France on Woman’s Hour

1 Oct

Womans-Hour-BBC-Radio-4

There’s been a sequence of wonderful events, readings, and happenings involving UoG staff and students lately, and we have another one to announce: poetry lecturer Angela France recently appeared on BBC4 Woman’s Hour, during the session guest edited by Bishop Rachel Treweek of Gloucester.  Angela featured alongside other guests Polly Meynell and Diana Short.

Angela’s segment focused on her work with the charity Infobuzz, delivering art and creative writing projects in Eastwood Park HMP.  The best part is that you can still catch up on the broadcast via BBC iPlayer – check it out here or listen to Angela’s individual segment on the Infobuzz website.

Celebrating the rich tradition of poetry at the University of Gloucestershire

11 May

Rarely a month goes by without happy news of our poets’ success, and now congratulations are due to Lesley Ingram (an alumni of our MA programme), Sam Kemp (a current student on our MA programme), and Angela France (one of our lecturers).

scumbled-upload-coverLesley has just published her debut collection, Scumbledwith CInammon Press. She won the 2013 Ludlow Fringe Poetry Competition and has previously been published in various places including Mslexia, The Flea, Dead Ink, iota, Under the Radar, Writers Abroad, and Angle. You can hear Lesley reading from her much anticipated collection at a special (and free!) poetry event being held on Saturday 6th June as part of the UoG Creative Writing Fringe Festival.

Also reading at that event will be Angela France, whose many achievements include winning the Lightship International Poetry Prize. Angela has just published two new poems: her work features in the new issue of Angle and in a new Bloodaxe anthology, Hallelujah for 50ft Women.160pp D8vo

And congratulations are also due to Sam Kemp – an exciting new voice – whose poetry appears in the current Angle as well as in Dreamcatcher.

Angle Issue7If you’d like to hear some of our great poets, then don’t forget our celebration of poetry on June 6th, featuring Lesley, Angela, Anna Saunders, Mantie Lister, and Nigel McLoughlin. Please see the Facebook event page for more information.

The 2015 Cheltenham Poetry Festival is here!

21 Apr

2015 poetry festival logoIt’s spring, the sun is shining, trees are blossoming, and it’s time for the 2015 Cheltenham Poetry Festival! This wonderful event is back with another varied and imaginative programme, and student tickets are available from a discounted rate of £4. There’s loads to see and hear, and the full programme is available via this link, but here are some of our picks if you’re not sure what to attend.

Wednesday April 22nd: Cheltenham Poetry Festival Launch Event 6pm-7:30pm in Smokey Joe’s. See a performance piece described as ‘a work of genius’ by John Cooper Clarke, hear some 50s songs, and listen to poetry from Rick Vick. Plus, perform your own poetry and short prose at the launch’s open mic!

Friday April 24th: Little Machine, 8:30pm-10pm at The Wilson. This is an amazing way to experience poetry – Little Machine are a poetry band described by Carol Ann Duffy as ‘The most brilliant music and poetry band I’ve seen in decades.’

Saturday April 25th: The Other Side of Sleep, 2:30pm-3:30pm at Oxfam. The Other Side of Sleep is an anthology that explores the narrative poem, and the event will feature readings from contributors, including our own Angela France.

Saturday April 25th: The Minotaur is Not a Monster – Myra Schneider & Anna Saunders plus the launch of Dear World, 4pm-5:15pm at Oxfam. Another of our high-achieving alumni, Anna Saunders (‘a poet of quite exceptional gifts’), will be reading at this event, which also includes the launch of an anthology of poems on environmental themes.

Saturday April 25th: The Contradictions of Flesh – Sonia Hendy-Isaac & Clare Ferguson-Walker, 7:30-8pm at Smokey Joe’s. It’s a chance to complete a hat-trick of UoG alumni poets in one day! Sonia Hendy-Isaac, who previously studied and taught at the University of Gloucestershire, will be reading from her debut collection which has been described as ‘fiercely sensual, shamelessly witty, drunk with life’ (Alison Brackenbury).

Saturday April 25th: Hip Hop & Freestyle Cabaret with Martin Daws, Petra Vita, and Davey Evans, 9pm-10pm at Smokey Joe’s. One of our very top picks from the festival, this night promises laughs, beats, music, and wordplay. There’s a UoG connection too – Brandon Landis, one half of Petra Vita, will be known to many of our Creative Writers, and the evening will be hosted by our own Davey Evans.

Monday April 27th: Nine Arches – Jo Bell & Robert Peake, 6pm-7pm at The Strand. This hour of poetry comes with special recommendation – not to be missed!

Wednesday April 29th Chris Hemingway & Myfanwy Fox – Sarcasm and Stanzas plus open mic, 9pm-10pm at Smokey Joe’s. This event explore sarcasm and poetry and affords all the chance to perform their own work, whether it be sarcastic or sincere.

Friday May 1st: Nine Arches Poetry Show Case – Bobby Parker, Dorothy Lehane, 1pm-2pm at The Everyman Studio Theatre. This is another event that comes with special recommendation – two exciting voices from the spoken word scene. If you don’t have a class at that time then this is the place to be!

Friday May 1st: Joe Duggan & Rowan Middleton, 5pm-6pm at The Everyman Studio Theatre. One of our very top picks from this year’s festival – an absolute must! Joe’s work chronicles Irish pub life, politics, bingo, and failing exams. He’s joined by one of our tutors (and graduates) – the brilliant Rowan Middleton. Rowan’s work mixes myth and modernity to muse on landscape and environmental issues.

Saturday May 2nd: Lines of Return – the Poetry of T.S. Eliot, Robert Frost, and Others, 3pm-4pm, The Everyman Studio Theatre. Poet and critic Stephen James unlocks the secrets of poetic craft – a great event for poets and students of literature.

Saturday May 2nd: How to Perform your Poetry, with Elizabeth Tyrell, 6pm-7:30 at The Everyman Studio Theatre. This is useful, not just for poets, but for any authors looking to improve their stage presence and performance skills

Saturday May 2nd: Breaking Bard – The Cheltenham Poetry Festival Slam 8pm-9:30pm at The Everyman Studio Theatre. 12 poets go head to head in an exhilarating X-factor style poetry battle!

Check out the full programme and find booking links here 🙂

Prizes, publications, and performances: more success for UoG Creative Writers

1 Nov

Happy news, fellow writers. As the man himself would say, we’re all super-excited for Tyler Keevil. The BA course leader has been shortlisted for the Writers’ Trust of Canada Journey Prize for his story ‘Sealskin.’ The Journey Prize is a major literary award with a $10,000 first prize, and Tyler is one of three finalists alongside Lori McNulty and Clea Young. He’ll be flying out to Toronto for the award ceremony at the Glenn Gould studio on November 4th, when the overall winner will be revealed. Tyler may be getting pretty used to award ceremonies, but we’re not quite believing the claim on his official website that he’s hired a fashion adviser. There’s certainly been no evidence of that around uni.

The journey prize

You can read a conversation between Tyler and Miriam Toews in the National Post here, and if you want to read the story itself, get a copy of Tyler’s collected short fiction, Burrard Inlet – it is, as Tyler would put it, super sweet.

Our poets are riding a wave too. Last year’s third year poetry group have had more success: Adam Magee has a poem up at the ezine Ink Sweat & Tears  and has two poems forthcoming in Domestic Cherry, the annual journal of Swindon Poetry Festival. Rosanna Riches and Josh Martin both have poems in issue six of Angle Poetry Journal.

Wales Arts ReviewThe poetry lecturers are also busy publishing: Angela France has a poem in an anthology of longer narrative poems, The Other Side of Sleep (Arachne Press), has three poems in Domestic Cherry, and a poem in Wales Arts Review. While Nigel McLoughlin has had poems published in The Honest Ulsterman and Under The Radar as well as poems forthcoming in New Writing, The Wolf, and The Stony Thursday Book.  There is an interview with Nigel in Axon, which you can read online here.

Not to be out done, there’s also fresh success for one of our playwrights. Senja Andrejevic-Bullock, who is studying for a Master’s degree, recently saw her short play ‘The Bargain’ performed script-in-hand by Touring Theatre Consortium at The Everyman Theatre.

Good luck Tyler and congratulations to all our stars!

Celebrating poetry at the University of Gloucestershire

1 Apr

Cheltenham Poetry FestivalAs part of the Cheltenham Poetry Festival, there’s a chance to see some of the University’s rising stars at The Muffin Man tonight. The University of Gloucestershire Creative Writing Showcase will be hosted by Adam Magee and headlined by Caitlin Clarke and Josh Martin. Also Performing will be Emmy Summers, Dani Schlosser, Sam Last, Lesley Ingram, and more. The event starts at 9:30pm, Tuesday 1st April, so come along, treat yourself to some fresh poetry, and support our talented writers.

It’s a great time for poetry at UoG, with many publishing success stories to report. Third-year poetry students Rosanna Riches and Adam Magee have both secured their first publications outside university. Rosanna has had three poems accepted by Angle Poetry Journal: ‘Scales’ and ‘Trending Beheading’ in issue 5 and ‘Meteorology’ for issue 6. Adam has had four poems accepted for Black Light Engine Room: ‘Crabbing’, ‘The lane behind my street’, ‘Degatano farm’, and ‘Anwn’.

Meanwhile, lecturers Angela France and Nigel McLoughlin have each had four poems accepted by Black Light Engine Room. Nigel McLoughlin also has new poems forthcoming in The Interpreter’s House and The Honest Ulsterman and Angela France has three poems in an anthology edited by Rosie Bailey and June Hall as well as an article in Litro magazine, ‘Gender Disparity in Poetry Publishing: it’s about more than the numbers’ which can be read here.

2014 Cheltenham Poetry Festival

17 Mar

Cheltenham Poetry FestivalThe Cheltenham Poetry Festival is back with another brilliant line-up for 2014. The festival will run from 28th March to 6th April, and once again it will star many poets with connections to the University of Gloucestershire.

The Poetry Festival has become an annual highlight in the cultural life of Gloucestershire; Poet Alison Brackenbury described at as a ‘triumph’ in its first year, and it has continued to delight audiences ever since. As Anna Saunders, the Festival founder and Executive Director, explains: ‘Since our launch in 2010 we have aimed to give you an all-singing, all-dancing festival – one that fuses poetry and music, film, drama and visual art. This year is no exception; we have award winning plays, cabaret nights, specially commissioned poetry cinema, poetry bands and much more.’

Anna is a graduate of the University of Gloucestershire’s MA in Creative and Critical Writing, and connections between the Festival and the University run deep. Check out the full 2014 programme here, and in the meantime here’s a guide to the events starring students, alumni, and staff (past and present) from the University of Gloucestershire:

Friday 28 March at 8:00pm  at Copa
A Matter of Life, Death and Poetry
A number of poets including MA alumni Avril Staple

Saturday 29 March at 1:00pm at The Everyman Other Space Studio
John Goodby and former UoG lecturer Kate North plus open mic 

Saturday 29 March 2014 at 4:30pm at Francis Close Hall
Laurie Lee – a celebration of a Gloucestershire poet’s work.

Hosted by UoG lecturer and graduate Angela France

Monday 31 March at 9:30pm at The Strand
Women’s Words 
With Angela France, current students Dani Schlosser and Emmy Summers, graduate Lizzie Rogers – MC, current student Adam Magee

 Tuesday 1st April 9.30pm-10.30pm at The Muffin Man
The University of Gloucestershire Creative Writing Showcase
H
osted by Adam Magee, with headliners Caitlin Clarke and Josh Martin

Thursday 03 April at 8:00pm at Copa
Anna Saunders & Jeremy Page – Struck
Launch of Anna Saunders’s New collection

Friday 04 April at 8:00pm at The Strand
Poetry Factory – Images from the Museum of Light 

A poetry collective which includes  MA graduate Chaucer Cameron, Anna Saunders and Avril Staple

Saturday 5th April 12.30pm-1.30pm at Copa
Poetry Pairings
Including Anna Saunders, Angela France, Adam Magee

Saturday 05 April 2014 at 5:00pm at Tailors
Peter Carpenter & Lesley Ingram – Being In Bed With Philip Larkin

Unislam! Competition and U of G Student Poetry Publications

1 Nov

unislamIt’s been an important week for the poets on our program here at U of G.  Firstly, the university’s slam poetry team took part in the inaugural Unislam! competition, hosted by Birmingham University. Angela France, lecturer in Creative Writing, had spent several weeks coaching the team and the students featured in the Gloucestershire Echo in the run up to the slam. Performers included Danie Schlosser, Adam Magee, Nick Short, and Emmy Summers, and the team alternates were Andy Davis and Rosanna Riches. Yohann Okyemba-Ngassaki went along as a supporter. There were strong performances all around by the U of G team, who were in a tough heat against competition that included the host university. Despite the quality of their poems, the UoG team missed out on qualifying from their ‘group of death’, but as the judges said on the day: it’s about the poetry, not the points, and the University of Gloucestershire team put in a good showing and did themselves proud.pic poetry slam

Secondly, three 3rd year students from our course have had their poems selected to be published on Peony Moon, a poetry blog run by Michelle Mcgrane.  Next week the blog will be running a project entitled ‘Against Rape,’ and work by Caitlin Clarke, Camellia Cressey, Emmy Summers will feature alongside poetry by U of G alumni Sally Clark.  Congratulations to all – and we’ll provide links and updates when their poems start appearing on the website.

Cheltenham Poetry Festival

3 Apr

The Cheltenham Poetry Festival starts on April 20th, offering you the chance to experience poetry in all it’s manifestations: there are world class poets performing in intimate venues, exciting new fusion events which blend poetry with visual arts, workshops, films, rap, food events, and even a little animation. Cheltenham Poetry Festival was described as a triumph in its first year, and since then it has gone from strength to strength. Check out the brilliant lineup at their website.

Deserving of special mention are the events involving University of Gloucestershire students and graduates:

Katie-Hammond-Picture-Dead-InkTuesday 23rd is new voices night, a showcase of emerging talent. The poets on show include award-winning new voice Katie Hammond, who holds a first-class honours degree from the University of Gloucestershire, where she is now studying for her MA. To hear Katie and other stars of the future, get along to The Muffin Man on Crescent Terrace. The event is from 6pm to 7:30pm, and again it includes an open mic section.

On Thursday 25th, there’s a chance to see a fusion of stunning film photography and haunting, lyrical poetry by Chaucer Cameron and Helen Dewbery. Chaucer is a graduate of the University of Gloucestershire MA programme, and the event – titled ‘There is nothing in the garden’ – is from 4pm to 5pm, in Oxfam Bookshop on Cambray Place.

On Saturday 27th, there’s a chance to hear University of Gloucestershire graduate, Angela France. Angela is the author of three collections, the newest of which, Hide, was launched at the university in March. She has an MA in Creative and Critical Writing from the University of Gloucestershire, where she is now studying for a PhD. Her work is richly imaginative, finely crafted and complex, while remaining joyfully playful. Angela and Dan will be representing the South West against the East Midlands (represented by Matt Merritt and Maria Taylor), in the Nine Arches Press poetry rodeo. The poets will take turns in an exchange of poems responding to the themes, ideas and forms of each other’s work. The event is from 2pm to 3pm in Copa on Regent Street (£5/4).

angelaFinally, don’t miss Angela France’s second appearance of the weekend, this time alongside Costa prize winner, Christopher Reid (whose poem The Song of Lunch became a BBC2 film starring Alan Rickman and Emma Thompson). They’ll be reading at The Red Pepper Bistro on Regent Street, from 8pm to 9pm (£5/4).

You can book tickets for these performances, or any of the festival’s other great events, online at www.cheltenhamtownhall.org.uk or by phoning 0844 576 2210.

Angela France Book Launch

11 Mar

Acclaimed poet Angela France, a University of Gloucestershire lecturer and PhD student, is launching her new book, Hide, at the University on Thursday 21st March.

Angela’s poems have been anthologised a number of times, she has won the Lightship International Poetry Prize, and her previous publications include Occupation (Ragged Raven Press) and Lessons in Mallemaroking (Nine Arches Press). Her new collection has been described by David Morley as ‘a book of wisdom, dignity, and first witness’.

As if that’s not enough for you, the evening also promises the chance to hear Professor Nigel McLoughlin read from his prize winning poetry. The launch is in TC007, at 7:30pm, on Thursday 21st March. It’s free and all are welcome, so get the date in your diary now!

Hide launch invite

UoG poets this Friday

20 Nov

There’s a great poetry event happening at the Meantime Project Space this Friday, and the performers include University of Gloucestershire postgraduate students Angela France and Katie Hammond. The organisers are promising ‘A cracking line-up of established poets, introduced by Sarah L Dixon, The Quiet Compere, of Lead Poets, on tour from Manchester.’ The full line up will star David Clarke, Dan Cooper, Sarah L Dixon, Myfanwy Fox, Angela France, Helen Gregory, Katie Hammond, and Adam Horovitz. Meantime is on Oxford Passage, behind The Brewery, just a few minutes walk from Francis Close Hall Campus. The event is free and it starts at 19:15 on Friday 23rd November. All welcome.

Creative Writing at the University of Gloucestershire

29 Oct

We think there’s no better creative writing programme in the country, and our recent graduates seem to agree: this year the Creative Writing BA at the University of Gloucestershire was one of few writing courses to achieve a 100% satisfaction rating in the National Student Survey. This has got us thinking about things we’re doing right. Here are ten suggestions for why the course achieved a perfect score in the NSS survey:

1. We have great students! The students on our Creative Writing course write great work and offer each other sophisticated critiques. In the last five years, six University of Gloucestershire graduates have gone on to publish books and many more students and graduates have published poetry and short stories in journals such as Envoi, Acumen, Agenda, Iota, Zouch, The London Magazine, and Magma. Over the last four years students and graduates have been shortlisted for the Arvon Poetry Prize, the Bridport Prize, The Guardian Short Story Prize, The Cinnamon Press Prize, and The Templar Poetry Pamphlet Prize, while Angela France, a graduate from the MA programme, won the Lightship International Poetry Prize. Our BA course has produced successful writers in every genre: recent BA graduates include K.J. Moore, whose novella, Monster Porn, was published by Blood Bound Books in 2011; and Lucy Tyler, whose plays have been produced in Europe and America, and who is now part of our teaching staff.

2. We’re an active community of writers. The students on our Creative Writing course aren’t producing their work in isolation; they’re also busy organising and attending events and socials. Students organise regular open mic nights at which they share their work in progress – 68 students and staff attended one recent event at the Frog and Fiddle pub. Meanwhile, the Creative Writing Society organises regular social events. There’s a real sense of camaraderie and of a writing community in which students support each other.


3. There are opportunities for publication and performance
. At the time of writing, we’re just about to launch Smoke, the University’s latest anthology of student writing. This excellent collection of new writing showcases prose and poetry from 32 of our many talented students. We’re also in the process of setting up our inaugural novel writing competition, in which the winner will receive a cash prize and have his or her work critiqued by a London-based literary agent. Meanwhile, dramatic writers have had their work produced by students on the university’s radio production course, and five of last year’s third-year students showcased their work to a large audience at one of Cheltenham’s theatres, the Parabola Arts Centre. In summer 2013, a play co-written by the new third-year drama students will be performed by a professional theatre company at The Everyman Theatre.

4. We have a good balance of staff expertise. All our Lecturers are active writers established in their respective fields, and each brings something unique to the course. On the poetry side, the course benefits from the experience of Professor Nigel McLoughlin (The Waters’ Clearing, Songs For No Voices, Blood, Dissonances, and Chora), whose work has been published and anthologised in Ireland, Britain, USA, Canada, Australia, Europe, Japan, Nepal, and Malaysia; and has featured in The Guardian, The Independent on Sunday, The London Magazine, Poetry Review, The Irish Times, and Sunday Tribune. Dr Martin Randall (9-11 and the Literature of Terror), primarily a prose writer, comes from an English Literature background and contributes a wealth of knowledge on literature, theory, film, and cultural criticism. Dramatic Writing is covered by Lucy Tyler (The Measurements of a Murderer, Claudia Schiffer’s Mind, Saviours, and The Operators), whose plays have been performed in Europe and America. On the prose side, Dr D.D. Johnston (Peace, Love, and Petrol Bombs) teaches the fundamentals of prose technique, while Tyler Keevil (Fireball), an award-winning novelist and prolific short story writer, specialises in short fiction, memoir, and the writing industry.

5. We are all committed to quality teaching. The lecturers at the University of Gloucestershire are passionate about their own writing, but they’re equally passionate about teaching – nobody here views teaching as a way to pay the bills while pursuing their own career. In addition to our 100% NSS satisfaction rating, our high teaching standards have also been recognised in awards to individual teachers: in 2011 the Higher Education Academy awarded Nigel McLoughlin a National Teaching Fellowship in recognition of his individual excellence as an educator, while in 2012 D.D. Johnston received the University of Gloucestershire Students’ Union award for the University’s ‘most outstanding lecturer’.

6. We have relatively small class sizes and students receive regular, in-depth feedback on their work. The high volume of feedback is facilitated by maintaining smaller than average class sizes, which allows us to focus on each student’s work. Our cohort is big enough that students encounter a wide range of personalities and writing styles, but it’s small enough for students to get to know each other and their lecturers. Many modules on our courses are taught using workshops, during which students receive weekly or fortnightly feedback from members of staff and their peers. Before their first official assessment, first-year prose writers also have the opportunity to receive graded feedback on a practise assessment and to discuss their work with the lecturer in a one-to-one tutorial.

7. We use a variety of teaching methods to impart key information while encouraging active learning and critical thinking. Unlike some creative writing courses, in addition to workshops and seminars, most of our modules involve weekly lectures. These allow the lecturers to convey core knowledge and present thorough analyses of contemporary literature. Creative Writing is part of the University of Gloucestershire’s strong tradition of English studies – in the 2012 Guardian league tables, English at the University of Gloucestershire was rated 19th in the whole of the UK. However, in addition to the lecture format, many classes are built around discussion and debate. We encourage students to think for themselves and we value experimentation and originality.

8. There are great opportunities for postgraduate study. Many of our BA graduates progress to study on the University’s strong Creative and Critical Writing MA programme, where in addition to creative and academic projects, students can get hands-on classroom teaching experience, while some serve relevant internships (e.g., on the editorial team of the poetry journal Iota). The Creative Writing department also benefits from the input and knowledge of postgraduate research students, who study PhDs in topics as diverse as nature poetry and ecology, free will and determinism in contemporary historical fiction, personal pronoun use in confessional poetry, transgressive writing, and fourth-wave feminist poetry.

9. Our programme has a history of innovation and we regularly update and refresh our courses. We are the first writing programme to include formal study of creativity and the creative process at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels, and our MA was one of the first to include a module devoted to teaching Creative Writing. This popular module focuses on the pedagogy of writing and provides students with practical training as Creative Writing teachers.

10. Finally, Cheltenham is a great place for aspiring writers. In 2006 it was named the best place to live in Britain, and the town’s motto – Salubritas et Eruditio – celebrates Cheltenham’s long-standing reputation for academic excellence. It hosts the world’s oldest literature festival – the internationally-famous Cheltenham Literature Festival – a thriving poetry festival, great second-hand bookstores, and three excellent theatres.

Templar Poets and Guests live in Worcester and Chipping Norton

16 Oct

Here’s some news on a couple of local(ish) poetry events: University of Gloucestershire Creative Writing tutor Angela France is performing in Worcester tomorrow night as part of a series of events organised by Templar Poetry.

Angela holds an MA from the University of Gloucestershire and her poetry has been published in many of the leading journals in the UK and abroad. Her second collection, Occupation, is available from Ragged Raven Press, while her most recent collection, Lessons in Mallemaroking (July 2011), is available from Nine Arches Press. Angela is features editor of Iota and an editor of ezine The Shit Creek Review. She also runs a monthly poetry café, ‘Buzzwords’, which meets on the first Sunday of each month at the Exmouth Arms in Leckhampton, Cheltenham. Her many achievements include winning the Lightship International Poetry Prize.

You can see Angela plus guests at The Lamb & Flag, The Tything, Worcester: Wednesday 17th October at 8.00pm.
The following night, Martin Malone, Mark Leech, and open mic poets are appearing at The Chequers, Goddards Lane, Chipping Norton: Thursday 18th October, 6.30 for 7.00pm.

Both events are free.

Cheltenham Poetry Festival 2012

15 Apr

The second annual Cheltenham Poetry Festival will be running between the 18th and the 22nd April. This year the festival will feature nearly 100 performers over five days of spoken word and live literature events. The events take place at venues across the town: lots of the events are in pubs and lots of them are free! To check out the line up and to learn more, visit the Cheltenham Poetry Festival website. There are loads of interesting events but be sure not to miss University of Gloucestershire star Angela France, who ‘s appearing with Penelope Shuttle at Francis Close Hall on Friday 20th. The event starts at 6:30pm and tickets are £7/5.

 

Angela France awarded Arts Council England Grant

16 Mar

Arts grants are always hard to come by, but especially so in these times of austerity. So congratulations to Angela France who has been awarded a grant from the Arts Council England to complete her latest collection of poetry. Angela holds an MA from the University of Gloucestershire and her poetry has been published in many of the leading journals in the UK and abroad. Her second collection, Occupation, is available from Ragged Raven Press, while her most recent collection, Lessons in Mallemaroking (July 2011), is available from Nine Arches Press. Angela is features editor of Iota and an editor of ezine The Shit Creek Review. She also runs a monthly poetry café, ‘Buzzwords’, which meets on the first Sunday of each month at the Exmouth Arms in Leckhampton, Cheltenham. Angela has a firm offer of publication for the new collection, and she expects it to be published towards the end of 2012.

A Review of Creative Writing at the University of Gloucestershire in 2011

30 Dec

It’s time to wish everyone a happy new year and to review Creative Writing at The University of Gloucestershire in 2011: we think it’s been a great year.

COURSE NEWS

The year started with the full-time appointment of Lucy Tyler, who had previously been teaching first and second year dramatic writing. Lucy, whose plays have been performed in London, Berlin, and New York, graduated from The University of Gloucestershire BA in Creative Writing and then completed the prestigious M.Phil playwriting program at Birmingham University. One year in, she has already made her mark on our Creative Writing programme. She has developed links with the University’s excellent Radio Production course and teaches a second-year semester on writing for radio. In 2011, three students – Claire Leek, Laurent Dayment, and Claire Holland – had their radio plays produced, and you can listen to the results on the audio page of our blog.

In another of Lucy’s innovations, second year Dramatic Writing students last May hosted a day of table-top and staged readings with Paul Milton, the Artistic Director of The Everyman Theatre, and a group of the theatre’s creative associates and actors. Twelve plays, written over the course of the year, were rehearsed in-house by Paul and his team, and actors commended students’ ability to write for performance. You can watch a sample of the readings via this link.

Lucy is continuing to develop her collaboration with The Everyman Theatre, and in August the University’s Janet Trotter Trust awarded a grant to facilitate the production of a community play written by third year undergraduates. We hope that in 2013 undergraduate students on a new, optional module will have the unique opportunity to see their work performed on tour in local theatres.

This is one of several developments we’re planning for the new academic year, as we aim for change and continuity. At undergraduate level, we want to keep our core provision to ensure that every student has a wide grounding in poetry, prose, and dramatic writing; but we also want to offer choice and variety to complement the interests of individual students. In addition to the proposed new Dramatic Writing module, possibilities for 2012 include a module on ‘The Writing Business’ and a chance for students to study ‘Writing, Language, and the Brain’. On our Master’s course, a new module, the ‘Employment Focused Research Project’, offers students a chance to focus on the skills most relevant to their interests and career plans; for example, they might embark upon a supervised project in translation or adaptation, or they might develop a critical article for a particular publication. Another option is a period of work-related internship; for example, in arts administration or with a relevant journal. In recent years several students have served internships with the poetry journal Iota, whose editorial team is headed by Professor Nigel McLoughlin. This has furthered their understanding of the business end of writing, increased their own confidence as writers, and afforded them the opportunity to help shape an internationally regarded journal – and to have that experience on their Curriculum Vitaes.

But we also aim for continuity because this year we, and our external examiners, have again been impressed by the excellent work produced on the undergraduate and master’s courses. In 2011 we received our Periodic Review (a quinquennial inspection of every university course), and in declaring the academic health of our programs, the reviewers especially commended the enthusiasm and passion of our teaching staff – that’s one thing that isn’t going to change.

STUDENT NEWS

Congratulations to post-graduate student Angela France, whose successful 2011 was capped by winning the Lightship Poetry Prize. The prize, which this year was judged by Jackie Kay, earned Angela an envy-inducing £1000. In July, she published her most recent collection, Lessons in Mallemaroking. Penelope Shuttle has written of the collection, ‘Angela France has the craft to sustain her compelling and varied subject matter, and she uses language with controlled intensity, lyric energy, and an unerring sense of how to balance a poem.’

 

The prose writers have been busy too. PhD student KJ Moore, who holds a BA and MA from the University of Gloucestershire, has recently published a novella, brilliantly titled Monster Porn (Blood Bound Books). The story, which was originally written for her MA dissertation, was described by Brandon Wilkinson as ‘beautifully written, descriptive to the Nth degree, with a shocking twist that will leave you gasping for air.’ Those of us who attended her book launch in November enjoyed her witty introduction and lively reading (not to mention the shocked expressions on the faces of those who hadn’t yet read it!).

Undergraduate student Keely O’Shaughnessy has had success with her short story ‘The Breakfast Bar.’ The story, which was originally written for a second-year prose class, was selected from a strong field to be produced by students on the University’s Radio Production course (you can listen to the audio story here), and later in the year it was selected for publication in volume six of Duality.

On the academic side, PhD student Lauren Hayhurst has published a paper, ‘Fictional Futures Vs Historical Reflections’, in Foundation 109, the journal of science fiction. In June, Lizzie Rogers presented her paper ‘Me, My Clit, and I: A Feminist Suggestion’ at the 14th Annual Great Writing International Creative Writing Conference, at Imperial College, London. Additionally, Rowan Middleton spoke on mythology and ecopoetry at the Oxford University English Graduate Conference (June), and at the Association for the Study of Literature and the Environment postgraduate conference (September).

STAFF NEWS

In November we were delighted to hear that the title of Professor had been conferred on Nigel McLoughlin in recognition of his professional standing. Three months earlier, the Higher Education Academy had awarded Nigel a National Teaching Fellowship in recognition of his individual excellence as an educator. Nigel said: ‘I’m delighted and honoured to receive a National Teaching Fellowship award. Because the award is intended for the recipient’s future professional development in teaching and learning, I have no doubt that the Fellowship will enhance, enrich and broaden my teaching, which will be of enormous benefit to my current and future students.’ In 2011, Nigel was editor of the poetry journal Iota and the pedagogical journal Creative Writing: Teaching Theory and Practice. He was also co-editing a special edition of TEXT: The Journal of Writers and Writing Courses.

Dr. Martin Randall this summer published his monograph on cultural responses to the September 11th attacks. 9/11 and the Literature of Terror (Edinburgh University Press) is an eloquent and readable analysis of work by Martin Amis, Don DeLillo, Ian McEwan, Simon Armitage, Mohsin Hamid, and others. Reviewing the book in Scotland on Sunday, on the tenth anniversary of the terrorist attacks, Stuart Kelly described it as ‘an important milestone in our understanding of how culture can encompass those events.’

For Tyler Keevil, the year started with his short story ‘Liberty! Fraternity! Sexuality!’ being anthologised in Best Gay Romance 2011 (Cleis Press), while his article on the Coming-of-Age film soundtrack appeared in New Welsh Review 93. But it was Tyler’s novel, Fireball, that continued to make the headlines: it was longlisted for the English language section of the prestigious Wales Book of the Year Award and it won the Media Wales Readers’ Prize – the popular choice for the best English language book published in Wales this year. The prize was announced at a red-carpet ceremony in Cardiff, on Thursday 7th July. Tyler said ”I’m really grateful that people have taken to the book in the way they have, particularly in Wales. A lot of readers have told me it reminds them of their own childhood, regardless of where they’re from. It means a lot to hear that, and also to win an award that’s picked by those readers.” The New Wales Review described Fireball as a ‘breathlessly readable and confident debut that pushes beyond the bounds of its genre, capturing the dynamics of friendship, seduction, and loss to impressive effect….’ In September, Tyler discussed the novel in an interview with The Raconteur.

Lucy Tyler’s most recent production, ‘The Operators’ (The Georgetown Theatre Company, 2010-11), in summer 2011 ran in Washington to critical acclaim. The Washington City Paper wrote that ‘Lucy Tyler‘s The Operators strays farthest from history, recasting Beatrice as an abused modern-day 14-year-old attempting to report her father’s crimes to an abuse hotline, where the operators are helpless beneath their veneer of caring. The failure of societies 400 years apart to deal appropriately with abuse and find justice for real victims hits with heartbreaking immediacy in what may be the best of the five [plays].’

Finally, this year D.D. Johnston published his debut novel, Peace, Love, & Petrol Bombs, much of which was originally written while he was studying for an MA at the University of Gloucestershire. The novel was a Waterstone’s 3 for 2 book in August and he hopes the sale of the Spanish translation rights will soon be completed. Popmatters described it as ‘a humorous and poignant novel about anarchism,’ which ‘deserves wide acclaim’, while The Morning Star wrote ‘Rarely has a recent work of fiction so naturally and unpretentiously articulated Marx’s analysis of worker alienation explicitly and implicitly in its plotlines and dialogue. (…) Peace, Love and Petrol Bombs has a very urgent relevance now and for the immediate future.’

LOCAL EVENTS

Thanks to the efforts of Matt Benson and other students, 2011 saw the continuation of the ever popular open-mic nights. These student-organised events are a chance for the university’s creative writers to read their prose or poems, read someone else’s prose or poems, or stand nonchalantly at the back attempting to look vaguely bohemian. The last event of the year, held on Tuesday 6th December, was especially memorable: it was hosted by the University’s new avant-garde performance group, the Jolly Autocratic Committee. By the time we arrived, the function room at the Frog and Fiddle pub was decorated with mobiles and streamers and giant origami cranes.

It looked completely amazing but it took a few moments for us to realise that every piece of decoration was inscribed with quotes from novels, writing advice, or interesting and unusual words. Everybody received a writing themed ‘Merry Quotemas’ card, which inside contained a stanza of poetry, or an extract from a great story or play. We also received complimentary CDs – each hand-prepared and covered with individual artwork – with readings by Kathy Acker, Kenneth Goldsmith, Samuel Beckett, Gertrude Stein, and many others. When we’d crammed into the room, the show began; if you missed the night, or want to relive it, then here’s a sample. First, a frocked and jet-lagged Tim Smith laying down new commandments; next, two great pieces performed by Jess Searle: ‘Nice Shot’ and ‘Family Dinner.’

The University of Gloucestershire open-mic nights are not the only regular local performance spaces. Buzzwords, which is run by PhD student Angela France, is Cheltenham’s regular live poetry event, held on the first Sunday of the month at The Exmouth Arms, Bath Road. Every Buzzwords evening includes a Writing Workshop (commences 7 pm), followed (at 8 pm) by readings by a guest poet and an open-mic session. The first Buzzwords night of 2012 will be on Sunday January 8th, when the guest poet will be Jonathan Davidson.

Speaking of poetry, 2011 was also the year of the inaugural Cheltenham Poetry festival, where performers included Angela France and MA course leader Nigel McLoughlin. In addition to the University’s finest, the festival starred John Cooper Clarke, T.S. Eliot Prize winner Philip Gross, and George Szirtes, who read in The University of Gloucestershire chapel, accompanied by a group of Georgian singers. The 2012 Cheltenham Poetry Festival will run from the 18th to the 22nd of April.

If the Poetry Festival is a welcome addition to the local calendar, the Cheltenham Literature Festival is as established as the Gold Cup. It’s the oldest literature festival in the world and, despite its ever-increasing commercialisation, it continues to include many interesting and important writers. In 2011 invited speakers included Howard Jacobson, Penelope Lively, AD Miller, Víctor Rodriguez Núñez, Jo Shapcott, A.L. Kennedy, Will Self, Ben Okri, and Erica Jong. But the highlight was the appearance of one of America’s most exciting talents, David Vann. After his talk, Vann was kind enough to share some writing tips with University of Gloucestershire students. Of course, there’s always someone who tries to spoil the fun, and during the festival D.D. Johnston spoke at Cheltenham Waterstone’s in an event titled ‘Not the Literature Festival.’ Around 75 people, many of them UoG students, listened to him read from his novel and complain about the general state of things.

The Cheltenham theatre scene has always been an exciting part of the literary life of the town, and 2011 was no exception. For a long time, Cheltenham has had two theatres: The Cheltenham Playhouse and The Everyman. This year, the Playhouse presented a varied programme, hosting local and political drama, as well as the clipped voice of Mamet. The Everyman this year received a multi-million pound refurbishment and its 2011 programme complimented its exciting new interior. There has, it seems, been a celebration of vintage Alan Bennett with The Everyman playing host to The History Boys and The Madness of King George. Both of these productions were excellent, well-made pieces of theatre, but The Everyman did not restrict itself to traditional plays. University of Gloucestershire Dramatic Writing students enjoyed a trip to see Kneehigh Productions’ The Wild Bride: an inviting and innovative play that combines physical theatre with a musical element. This year, Cheltenham has more innovation to celebrate with the opening of a full season of plays hosted by the Parabola Arts Centre. This beautiful theatre is welcoming some of the most contemporary productions available to audiences in Cheltenham. Students organised a trip to see Littlebulb Theatre’s Operation Greenfield, a play which makes use of acting techniques from other mediums to get across its central point: theatre is still relevant and is as flexible as television and film. Plus, students stayed to talk to the actors after the show. We look forward to more theatre trips in 2012.

Finally, in 2011, a group of students including Becca Edwards, Emma Potter, and Rea Hunt formed The University of Gloucestershire Creative Writing Student Society. They’ve organised discussions and extra workshops and a whole lot of partying. If you’ve not yet been out with the society then make a new year’s resolution to join in with this welcoming and friendly group.

ALUMNI NEWS

One of our ambitions for 2012 is to establish an alumni group to maintain closer links between previous graduates and those still at the University; in the meantime, here’s news of a few former graduates. MA graduate Jemima Hunt this year started working as a literary agent with The Writers’ Practice. Hunt, who in addition to publishing her own novels has worked extensively as a ghost writer, is currently revising her third novel. In November she spoke as a guest of the Writers’ Guild, and by following this link you can listen to a podcast of Hunt’s interesting reflections on her writing career to date. MA graduate Lucie Brownlee, who in 2010 was short-listed for The Guardian Short Story Prize, has been working on her first novel and recently had a short play produced on local radio, while Ian Morgan, who holds a BA in Creative Writing from the University of Gloucestershire, has this year published ‘Pour Homme’ in Lyrotica: An Anthology of Erotic Poetry and Prose.

HERE’S TO THE FUTURE

What’s next for 2012? Well, here’s a date for your diary. March 7th 2012 is the deadline for submissions to Smoke: a new annual anthology showcasing the best prose and poetry produced by students on the University of Gloucestershire’s Creative Writing programme. The selection will be by competition and submissions for Issue one should be sent to smoke@newwriting.org (please see submission guide). Entry is open to all students who on that date will be enrolled on at least one module of the University’s Creative Writing programme, and it is our intention that the anthology will feature work from all levels of study, including postgraduate. This is a great chance to see your work in print and we plan to launch the anthology in September. We think 2012 is going to be our best year ever – see you there.

Angela France wins Lightship Poetry Prize

18 Oct

Congratulations to acclaimed poet Angela France, who has been announced as the winner of the prestigious Lightship International Poetry Prize. The prize, which this year was judged by Jackie Kay, has earned Angela an envy-inducing £1000. Angela studied her MA at the University of Gloucestershire and is now studying for a PhD. Angela’s poetry has been published in many of the leading journals in the UK and abroad, and has been regularly anthologised. Her second collection, Occupation, is available from Ragged Raven Press, while her most recent collection, Lessons in Mallemaroking (July 2011), is available from Nine Arches Press. Angela is features editor of Iota and an editor of ezine The Shit Creek Review. She also runs a monthly poetry café, ‘Buzzwords’, which meets on the first Sunday of each month at the Exmouth Arms in Leckhampton, Cheltenham. Angela’s Lightship Prize-winning poem, The Visit, will be published in the Lightship Anthology, due to be launched on 17th November 2011 (£6.99).

Buzzwords Poetry Event Sunday 2nd October

28 Sep

Buzzwords is Cheltenham’s regular live poetry event, held on the first Sunday of the month at The Exmouth Arms, Bath Road, Cheltenham.  Every Buzzwords evening includes a Writing Workshop (commences 7 pm), followed (at 8 pm) by readings by a Guest Poet and Open Mic sessions.   The guest poet this Sunday will be Joanna Ezekiel.  The cost is  £3 for students and £5 for waged.

Adolf Hitler was a woman!

26 Sep

University of Gloucestershire Post-grad student Angela France has surely won the prize for finding the most unlikely publishing outlet. If you’d said that Angela’s acclaimed poetry had recently featured in a national newspaper, my first guess would have been The Guardian. The Times? The Independent? No, the Sunday Sport! Some time ago, Angela wrote a poem inspired by a Sunday Sport headline: ‘Hide & Seek Champ found Dead in Cupboard’. After the poem was shortlisted for the Arvon Competition, and published in Angela’s latest collection, Lessons In Mallemaroking, a Sunday Sport journalist spotted it online. After contacting Angela, the newspaper published it in full on 21st August 2011. As the accompanying article explains, ‘A top poet has used a classic Sunday Sport headline as inspiration for an ode which was shortlisted for a nationwide prize.’ Alas, copyright laws prevent us from picturing the relevant pages, but it’s worth mentioning that other headlines on the double page spread include ‘Adolf Hitler was a woman’ and ‘Lez lover attacked with dildo.’