Presenting: Rhythm & Muse

InterviewsAs writers, we are constantly searching for that creative space where we let all inhibitions go and bask in a moment of artistry and talent.  We search out a certain environment where we can chat with other artists and like-minded individuals, discuss books and the intricacies of being a writer in the modern world or share the work we’ve poured ourselves into.  Well, dear friends, look no further because the monthly Rhythm & Muse events are the perfect place to lay your heads (metaphorically) and happily sip a beer while listening to musicians play their music and writers recite their poetry or short works of prose.

This week, Stephanie and Cais explore the world of performance poetry, encouraging all local writers to check out January’s upcoming Rhythm & Muse (and maybe even jump up for the open mic if they so dare).

By Stephanie Dotto and Cais Jurgens

We find ourselves in a dark, blue room, silhouettes of a city skyline running the length of the walls. People speak in quiet tones around small wooden tables, awaiting the first poet to take the stage.  It is a calm environment, reminiscent of the beat poetry clubs of an older age—the ideal space for an artist to present their work to the bibliophiles that have come to spend a night with other creative beings. The bill for the evening consists of a combination of poets, musicians, and lovers of the arts. Each person is staring eagerly at the stage as the minutes slip past, moving closer and closer to the show at hand.

And then it begins.  Continue reading

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Interview: An Interview on Self-Publishing with Alison Baverstock by Caitriona Marron

InterviewsDr. Alison Baverstock is the Course Leader of Kingston University’s MA Publishing programme. She’s contributed enormously to the industry over the last 25 years. She lectures and consults nationwide and has run multiple campaigns for reading and publishing, most notably being one of the founders of the Kingston Readers’ Festival in 2002. Her countless published works include The Naked Author, A guide to Self-Publishing and How To Market Books. Caitríona Marron from Words, Pauses, Noises was lucky enough to sit down with Alison and hear her thoughts on self-publishing, the role of the writer today and her tips for Kingston’s aspiring writers.

An Interview with Alison Baverstock by Caitríona Marron

How does your academic research influence your teaching and writing?

I find my research is hugely important to my teaching – teaching without being involved in research would feel slightly hollow, and it’s invigorating to have this lively bunch of minds available to discuss new ideas and see how they respond. Over the years, probably the most reliable source of new ideas has been my four children. They constantly challenge me, and it’s always stimulating to have your ideas stretched and hence developed. I am a very curious person and so often find new things to think about. For example, when I was expecting our first child, I read information for pregnant women that was rather patronising. It made me think about the best tone of voice to use to parents, and this was stored away years later when I co-wrote three titles on parenting. Nothing gets wasted in my life!

How important is knowledge on the publishing industry for MA creative writers? Continue reading

Introduction: The Mastermind Approach: A Process for Structuring Argumentative Essays by Dr David Rogers

InterviewsHave you been avoiding thinking about that essay you have to write for the January deadline? Well, wait no more. This week Words, Pauses, Noises brings you a piece on academic essay writing by the expert in the field, Dr David Rogers.

David is Director of the Kingston Writing School and his book ‘The Mastermind Approach: A Process for Structuring Argumentative Essays’ will be published in 2014. Here’s something to help your academic essay go in the right direction.

‘The Mastermind Approach: A Process for Structuring Argumentative Essays’

By David Rogers

All essay writers need a reliable process for their writing. You probably already have one for your creative writing, and it may be appropriate for your essay writing. If so use it. But, if not, then here are steps for one that will work: Continue reading

Announcing The First Annual WPN Competition!

cropped-header-blog3 copyWords, Pauses, Noises is proud to announce our First Annual Writing Competition!

The competition will be judged by a panel of writers, poets, and literary agents, and the first place winners in each category will receive a £100 prize. The winners and those pieces which are shortlisted will also be featured in our first physical publication!

Our categories are Short Fiction, Flash Fiction, and Poetry. You can submit one (1) work to each category, and that work may be on any subject, in any genre and style. That means anything, from romance to horror, science fiction to period pieces. We will not be accepting any interviews, reviews, essays, non-fiction travelogues, or excerpts of novels. Our standard submission agreement applies.

The word count limits are as follows:

SHORT FICTION: up to 1500 words

FLASH FICTION: up to 700 words

POETRY: up to 40 lines

Please follow the submission instructions provided on the COMPETITION RULES PAGE.

The contest is running from 2 December 2013 until 31 January 2014 and all winners will be notified by email when the judging has been completed.

So dust off that laptop and get writing! We look forward to seeing a wide range of works and styles. For those still hesitant about putting something on the blog, this is a chance to submit anonymously. Your work will be read by agents and published authors, with the chance to be published yourself! 

Recommended Summer Reading: A Booklist from Jonathan Barnes

InterviewsSummer is here at last! Words, Pauses, Noises suggests that the best way to spend a lazy summer afternoon is with a good book. One of our students, Jasmine, asked Kingston University’s writer-in-residence Jonathan Barnes for his recommendations on books to read this summer. He gave us a great list of some of his favourites as well as those he’ll be reading over the holidays. So, pull out those deck chairs, grab a cool drink, and get outside for some sunshine with a good book!

Jonathan Barnes’ Summer Reading Recommendations

I have been reading a lot for review lately so it will be an enjoyable break over the summer to experience some fiction purely for pleasure. However, books that I’ve read and written about lately which I would also recommend include Julian “no relation” Barnes’ memoir Levels of Life – heart-breaking in its candour; unflinching in its depiction of an almost unbearable grief – and Patrick McGrath’s deft, stylish Constance. McGrath is one of our most underrated novelists – I’ve been a fan ever since the early works: his short story collection, Blood and Water, his first novel, The Grotesque – and his latest, about a brittle, troubled young woman in 1960s Manhattan, is as elegant and subtly potent as I’d expected. I’ve also written a short piece on the new edition of J B Priestley’s 1927 classic, Benighted (filmed twice as The Old Dark House) which remains, almost a century after it was written, chillingly effective. His description of some primal evil which might lie behind even the most tawdry of domestic horrors is unforgettable: “his mind… found an opposing presence, an enemy… a density of evil, something gigantic, ancient but enduring… it was working everywhere, in the mirk of rain outside, here in the rotting corners, and without end, in the black between the stars”.

When going away for the summer, my suitcase often strains towards the upper limit of the baggage allowance due to the volume of books that I’ve crammed into it. This year, I’ll be bringing (for review) the late Iain Banks’ last novel, The Quarry. For research purposes I’ll have with me Arthur Conan Doyle’s Tales of Unease and that strange, ghost-written nineteenth-century text Awful Disclosures, composed, supposedly, by the wronged nun “Maria Monk”. For sheer fun I’ll be taking two books that I’ve never read but which have been on my list for a while: Julian Maclaren-Ross’ novel Of Love and Hunger and F Scott Fitzgerald’s Collected Short Stories. I’ll also have with me – and for this, I make no apology whatever – Stephen King’s splendid-looking new novella, Joyland.

Next Sunday, join Words, Pauses, Noises for more original content to help make summer a little bit sunnier.

Creative Honesty and Being True to the Writer Within: A View From the Visiting Poet Michael Sarnowski

InterviewsAt Kingston, we have tried to foster a creative community not only for our students but for other authors who come to visit our University. The Kingston Writing School had the pleasure of welcoming visiting poet Michael Sarnowski to do a reading on February 28th 2013. Michael received his MFA in 2009 from Vanderbilt University. He read work from his thesis Mapping the Catacombs, introducing the KU audience to his entrancing, tactile poetry. In a brief chat with student Amber Koski following the reading, Michael expressed how important honesty is in all writing; the interview below supports his conviction to authenticity. 

Amber Koski: How was your time with the KU faculty/ staff, what did you take away from your conversations and interactions with those members? 

Michael Sarnowski: My time at KU was fantastic. The faculty and staff were warm, welcoming, and unflinching in their support. Not only was it a pleasure to re-immerse myself in a graduate writing program, but it was inspiring to see the framework that had been established for the writers. You could tell that there was a balance of support and trust with the students, a guidance that recognized each writer for their individual strengths. What has stayed with me has been the sense that as much as KU is offering a writing program, they’re offering a community for writers. Beyond the classroom there is a wealth of readings, exposure to publication opportunities, and writers enthusiastic to engage.

AK: What reactions/ commentary did the KU students have after your reading (if you can recall)? You have been a helpful and valuable mentor to me upon your return to the states, what benefits can this sort of support have for new writers? Do you have past tutors who still give you advice, perhaps from your days as an undergrad? 

MS: After the reading I was able to speak with a handful of students and faculty, and the focus shifted away from conventional questions regarding craft and towards more specific poems or concepts that intrigued them. This one-on-one interaction gave both parties the opportunity to really extract something meaningful from topics which may be less likely to appear in a workshop. For example, discussions were broached regarding the nature of honesty and vulnerability in writing, and how to approach delicate content without overstepping the bounds of sentimentality. There were also comments on individual poems that had resonated with people. Personally, the most rewarding aspect of a reading is establishing a connection with someone. Not only is creative writing an opportunity to experience the world as someone else, but it’s incredible when those ah-ha moments crest when we realize we’re not as alone in the world as we had thought.

Open lines of communication between writers and mentors are extremely important, particularly because of the inherent solitude of writing. It’s an act that tends to happen in quiet moments, in time that you have carved away from work, sleep, or whatever else fills your days. So there’s the initial gain of receiving feedback, but the collateral benefit of influence and inspiration for both the writer and mentor. If we become too isolated, it becomes a necessity to have someone around to help you “kill your darlings,” to quote Faulkner (or Quiller-Couch? Or whoever else that phrase has been attributed to).

I’ve been incredibly fortunate and forever indebted to have worked with tutors like Mark Jarman, Rick Hilles, and Aimee Nezhukumatathil. They have all put in plenty of overtime in their support and cultivation of my work. If I can repay a fraction of the support they have shown to others, I’ll be on the right track.

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Confidence, Creative Writing, and Careers: A Conversation with Adam Baron – Part 1

Pen-and-Paper

Adam Baron is a principal lecturer in Creative Writing at Kingston University,teaching on the undergraduate, MA and MFA programs. During his versatile career he has been an actor, literary editor, comedy writer and performer. Adam is a published author and his crime novels Shute Eye and Hold Back the Night were both adapted into drama series on BBC in 2009/10. Here he shares his thoughts with Words, Pauses, Noises’ Boyana Petrovich about studying creative writing, feedback, grades, how to get published and more.

Adam, you’re a very experienced tutor and students love your workshops. What can Creative Writing MA students expect to learn or shouldn’t expect to learn during their course? 

I suppose you can’t come here thinking I will have to do that and be a published writer. But what you can learn is to write from your own voice, to find that voice as a writer. You can learn which genres work for you, which kind of writing works for you, in a way that you will discover all sorts of new ways of writing and thinking about writing. And from my perspective, you can learn the practicalities of structure and form which you can then apply in your own work. And that is what I see most creative writing students do. Encountering feedback, feedback generally being about structure and form of a sentence, a paragraph, a chapter, a longer piece of work, they then see similar structural problems in the work of other students that means the work of other students isn’t as successful as it could be to them as a writer, and that makes them think, aha, I need to take this on board myself.

Students can also learn to take themselves seriously as writers, to gain confidence, to say – this is what I’m interested in as a writer – which is very hard to do. It’s very hard to have confidence to say I will write and this will be interesting. And you can see this growing confidence in students who get a good mark, then a better mark and genuinely see that other people like their work and it’s that boost of confidence that they can learn as well, learn to take themselves seriously.

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