Busy few weeks at the Scottish Writers' Centre.
Last week, David Manderson led the discussion on creative writing (higher) education. Very interesting. He gave a useful overview on the growth of CW courses in UK universities over the last 15 years. Some audience members asked what the value was, e.g. what good does it do a student to finish their studies with a pile of short stories when there's no market for them. Reasonable point in many ways but then, we could ask the same question about English Literature essays. There's a value in study; learning techniques of creative writing has the general educational value of developing a student's critical analysis. At a vocational level, it helps the student put craft ideas into practice. As an analogy, I think of driving. You can study theory and pass your driving theory test but that doesn't make you a good driver. Dave's novel's due out soon.
This coming Thursday, 14 April 2011, the fabulous Tom Leonard will be reading from his work. Definitely one to look out for. 7pm in the CCA Clubroom in Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow. Admission free! The SWC appreciates the support of the Scottish Book Trust in staging this event.
On Thursday 21 April at 7pm, David Kinloch launches his new poetry collection, published by Carcanet. It has the intriguing title of Finger of a Frenchman. That's one not to miss!
And on Thursday 28 April at 7pm, we've a special session on Iraqi Fiction, in cooperation with the Goethe Institut, Glasgow, and featuring Abbas Khider, Kusay Hussain and Sue Reid Sexton. As with other events, admission to this is free (though donations to help with the organisation of future events are always welcome).
The Scottish Writers' Centre operates out of the Centre for Contemporary Arts, 350 Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow, G2 3JD.
Having mentioned Sue Reid Sexton, I'll also mention that Keith and I attended a launch of her novel Mavis's Shoe, which was published by Waverley Books in March to coincide with the 70th anniversary of the Clydebank Blitz. I'm really looking forward to reading it. It's about a young girl who loses her sister on the first night of the blitz, when Clydebank, a shipbuilding town on the banks of the Clyde, just next to Glasgow, was devastated by enemy bombs. I used to spend my Saturday afternoons in Clydebank when I was just a little bit older than Mavis. Sue's reading was superb - completely evocative, thrilling and poignant. She had the great idea of using sound system to replicate the bomber alert and all clear sirens, which really made the blood in my veins curdle. She also partly dramatised sections of the novel, with three students from STAG theatre group reading the parts.
I've read the first chapter and am now eagerly trying to finish the Emile Zola book I'm reading (slightly struggling with) so I can get on to reading Mavis's Shoe! But I can't skip it because the Zola book is set in the flat plains of Beauce in France, close to where I spent last summer on the Robert Louis Stevenson Fellowship and this is the area my main character in Spell in the South comes from, so it's useful secondary research :)