Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Farewell to Creative Writing at the Art College

After a long day's travelling from Oxford - about five and a half hours - touch base at home, then out to the launch of VETO, the magazine of the art college's Creative Writing course which is ending this summer after eighteen years of operation. The rather illustrious history of the course is worth recounting though not tonight because of sheer exhaustion, compounded by the thought of a heavy day tomorrow, half a day's teaching in Thursday, and a journey to Bristol for a reading there on Friday.

It would be a good thing to tell the story of the art school course since it is a fine example of the way institutions destroy precisely the things that they are supposed to nourish. Institutions do this all the time and have been increasingly likely to do so as time has gone on.

The launch was sweet - in an artists' studio space behind a big store in one of the poorer parts of town. The students put on nibbles, wine and soft drinks and had put up some visual work. Joe, the editor of this last volume, organised the reading part of the event. I said a few words, then GM, my colleague and boss there of some ten or more years, said his piece, then some of the contributors read their work and said pieces, and I read poems by three absent earlier students, all of whom had gone on to books. Not bad for an undergraduate art school course, nothing to do with Lit in the academic sense: several books, several Gregory Awards, several postgraduates and doctorates.

How did it all get started? And how did it finally meet its doom? Read the next exciting - and instructive - instalment.

And sew to bead.

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