Saturday, June 11, 2005

Great Writing, Portsmouth

Portsmouth I have been at the Great Writing conference at the University of Portsmouth today.
This was an eclectic conference; with a rich weave of creative, theoretical and pedagogical work. This was also a nice conference; friendly, unstuffy and well-attended without being too huge. The facilities were good and the food was tasty. I quite enjoyed delivering in a room with a decent speaker system.

My presentation was called ‘When Theory comes to the Fore'. It seemed to go over OK though it was hard to tell… as I never seem to get any questions at these sessions! I suspect that in this case it was because I was speaking to an audience who were not familiar with computer-mediated writing. I must say that I found this outcome to be a bit of a disappointment as I was trying to talk about epistemology rather aesthetics. I spent ages working on my presentations (I used flash to keep the whole thing fluid) and it would have been nice to raise a laugh or a sigh or even a ya-boo-sucks – rather than a polite silence. It would also be useful to get a critical reaction to some of my ideas. However this said, I rather enjoyed the informal aspects of Great Writing as I was collared by a number of people at the breaks who wanted to follow up on my work. I guess this is where the real work of this conference gets done!

I really enjoyed the creative writing at this conference. I particularly warmed to the fiction readings by Kristina Weaver & Andrew Doig from the University of Glasgow. I tend to hear poetry rather than prose at the moment and it was a real treat to hear rich narrative voices. Both of these authors have a strong sense of speech in their work and this enabled them to evoke a time and place through their language.

I was also struck by 'Owen’s Waiting’ by Gareth Sion Jenkins from the University of Wollongong. This piece was a mixture of multimedia presentation and live performance. This kind of work asks a lot of questions about the aesthetics of reading and text. I found myself quite over-powered by sections of Jenkin's performance. I can’t help wondering whether it was too much, too rich for readers (like me) trained to read on the page. I hope not…as this is the kind of work I would like to explore in the future!


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