Creative Writing

Dan

Gregory Leadbetter, Reader in Literature and Creative Writing, takes a moment to talk to MA Creative Writing Student, Dan Witherall about the recent shortlisting of his short story submitted for the Bridport Short Story Prize 2017 – and how his studies at BCU have helped to develop his writing practise.

 

 

1: You made the shortlist for the Bridport Short Story Prize 2017 – a huge achievement that you must be incredibly proud of! 
Why thank you. And this is solely down to my MA Fiction module, really. I worked closely with my then-tutor / now-mentor and friend Rhoda Greaves on each of my pieces. Rhoda really gave me the confidence to start sending my work to the more prestigious competitions out there. Honestly this is Rhoda’s achievement every bit as much as it is mine. Without her notes and guidance, I wouldn’t be within a hundred miles of where I’m at now, creatively speaking. Continue Reading
Creative Writing

With retirement fast approaching, Andy Tyers yearned to achieve his aspiration of becoming a writer. We took a moment to see how an MA in Creative Writing, at Birmingham City University, helped him to make that dream a reality.

 

Profile PictureCan you tell me why you decided to join the course and why did you choose BCU?
I had already had a successful career as a photographer and film maker, finally taking to lecturing in Media Production. It was when I saw the inevitability of retirement looming I decided to fulfil a lifetime ambition and become a writer. I had already drafted out a novel but I needed to be able to write with skill and confidence to take it to the next stage. I looked at various courses but it was the MA in Creative Writing at BCU which fitted the bill. As I had graduated from the Birmingham Polytechnic many years ago it felt like I was coming home.

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Creative Writing

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We caught up with Shirley Lloyd, a Postgraduate student on our MA Creative Writing course, to get some insight into her experience at Birmingham City University and what attracted her to our course.

 

1. Can you tell me why you decided to join the course and why did you choose BCU?
I decided to apply for the MA in Creative Writing course as it had been a dream of mine for some years, to fully immerse myself into the world of writing. Then the dream became a promise to myself which came to fruition. I chose BCU because the creative writing course offers a spectrum of fiction and non-fiction writing modules. I knew I would be taken out of my comfort zone which is something I found appealing. I was also impressed with the English Faculty senior staff whom I met prior to applying for the course. The genuine passion they showed for the course was enough to convince me that BCU was the university for me.
Plus, I am a BCU alumni student. I achieved my Post-Graduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) qualification here in 1998. So it was like coming home.

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English

 By Dan Witherall
MA Creative Writing student, School of English

New York is, in my opinion, one of the greatest cities in the world.

It’s beautiful, vibrant, cultural, welcoming (for the most part), as well as being a fantastic place to eat and an amazing place to get hammered. But, it is also utterly exhausting.
Our apartment is in Flatbush, Brooklyn, so we are at least spared the bedlam of staying in Manhattan. I know New York very well, which is lucky because had this been my first visit, I’d have missed a lot. During our seven nights in New York, we only venture outside of Union Square twice.
I carved out some time to visit two must-see places: Bryant Park (my favourite place, ever) and the MoMA. During a stroll through Midtown, a pair of French tourists ask directions, and I’m so tired that all I can muster is a “three blocks down” in a terrible French accent.
Anyway, to the opening ceremony at FearNYC! Continue Reading
English

By Dan Witherall
MA Creative Writing student, School of English

So, festival submissions have been made. We eagerly await, and…

We get into Pittsburgh Independent Film Festival. We are ecstatic. I’m not going but Colin is. He will do a Q&A after the showing, and we will have our North American premiere. Lovely.
Then, some bloke who runs a distribution company in the States contacts us. He wants to offer us a deal. We employ the expertise of Pip Piper as our consultant and we learn a bonkers amount about the industry simply from observing his negotiations. We cannot thank Pip enough.
Pip Piper is a human male that I have met due to my time in BCU*. And my time at BCU is a very recent edition to this tale. The tuition that we’ve garnered from Pip’s experience as a producer are of immeasurable importance and quality. The journey that Lost Creek has taken us on has merged with my enrolment at BCU at the perfect time. Like a river, in fact. A creek is a river, see. See? See!? Continue Reading
English

By Dan Witherall
MA Creative Writing student, School of English
Lost Creek 2
Hi, I’m Dan and I’m a filmmaker. Well, technically I’m a filmmaker, but really more of a screenwriter. I’ll explain:
Me and my BFF (Colin Adams-Toomey – you’ll be reading his name a lot) decided to make a film. We decided this separately, about twenty-six years ago. Me in my South Welsh village of Cilfynydd, and Colin in his Delaware household over in the USA. We were eight years old, and Jurassic Park had just blown our minds, via our eye holes. Ten years later, Colin and his family decided to leave the States after Bush got his second term in office, and thank goodness he did. Because it was that decision that led Colin to enrol in Aberystwyth University back in 2003. There, he met me. Continue Reading
English

Hi! I’m Isaac and I’m a third year student studying English Language with English Literature here at the School of English. My journey to university began when I signed up for an A Level evening course studying English Language and Literature. Whilst there, my lecturer suggested I should take my studies to university… and here I am in the final few weeks of my degree!
What really make BCU stand out from the crowd was the possibility for students to take a major in Language and a minor in Literature. There was also a huge variety of Language modules to choose from unlike other universities I had visited. In first year, every student took the same modules to make sure that everyone was at the same standard before choosing modules in second and third year (this will change a bit when the new curriculum comes in, but the basic idea for semester 1 will be the same!).
There have been three strands to my studies throughout my second and third years. The first was the building blocks of Linguistics: Studying Language, Describing Language, Grammar and Vocabulary, Language & Social Identity, Teaching English as a Foreign Language and Language and Cognition. These modules helped me to build the foundation of my linguistic knowledge and helped me get to grips with the fundamentals of language.

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Language

DSC_0204New year, new you? The year you will never have to ask a friend to borrow a pen. The year you will always complete the extra-but-not-compulsory reading (as well as the compulsory reading, but you do that already, right?). The year you will complete your assessments a month before the deadline and make the most of all the opportunities provided by the university, even if that means cancelling your Netflix marathon and swapping your pajamas for attire that will be deemed acceptable outside the four walls of your bedroom. Even if you can’t stick to all of these goals this year, I recommend you that you take advantage of that which our school has to offer.
Since starting my English degree, I have completed study in Language modules, including Grammar and Vocabulary, Language and Gender, Literary Linguistics and Narrative Analysis. While Grammar and Vocabulary provided me with the essential skills to improve my writing and formed a foundation from which to analyse texts, Language and Gender made me better informed on issues of great importance (especially in today’s current circumstances) and developed my ability to analyse, argue and understand the views of myself and others in discussions surrounding gender. Literary Linguistics introduced me to the world of Corpus Linguistics, a branch of study I have found particularly interesting and have taken forward as a means of analysis within the Independent Study Module. I was also able to use this method of study in my recent Narrative Analysis project where I analysed the impact of Textual Patterning on the reader’s understanding of narratives. I have found all of my modules thoroughly enjoyable and have gained transferable skills that have been useful within the study of each of these topics and the general practice of ‘adult’ life.

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Literature

IMG_0170My name is Samantha, and I am a third year English Literature student here at Birmingham City University. My overall experience of studying here has been very positive, and has given me the transferable skills to go on to further study or employment. Within the School of English, I have learned to be articulate and a good communicator, whilst also studying a fascinating subject. From late night study sessions to early morning lectures, everything felt worthwhile.
The support from lecturers and staff within the School, as well as peers, made the experience a lot easier. I have gained a sense of community from the School and the University as a whole which I will greatly miss. The inter-connectedness of the Faculties within BCU means that I have not been limited to experiences within my own course. For example, I have been involved in collaborative projects within Arts, Design and Media where I have proofread work written by those whose native language is not English. This is a transferable skill that has even made me look at my own work more closely to ensure that I practice what I preach! Alongside this I am also a Student Ambassador and a Student Academic Mentor. The former involves interacting with prospective students and their guests, promoting all that the University has to offer. This is especially enjoyable as it means I get to share these highlights and show others how studying here has improved my life.

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Welcome

Hello and welcome to the School of English blog! My name is Dr Robert Lawson and I’m the Course Director for the School of English at Birmingham City University. I’m responsible for the undergraduate programme of studies in English, which includes not just looking after students’ academic progression, but also their pastoral and professional development.
The School of English started this blog with the main aim of this blog of giving you a better perspective of what it’s like studying here at the School of English at BCU. Starting university can be daunting, especially if you’re moving away from home. Hopefully, the experiences of our students will give you a bit of a better insight into university life, what to expect when you arrive, and the kinds of things that you can look forward to studying and reading.
Over the course of the next six months, we’ll have a variety of posts from our current students talking about their experience on their degrees in literature, language, drama, and creative writing, as well as our joint degrees in English and Media. All of our students come from different walks of life, but they’re all united by a passion and a love for English, in all its guises.
We expect our readers to come from all sorts of different backgrounds. You may be a prospective student looking for more information about our courses; you may be a parent checking out what we offer here in the School; or you may just be dropping in because you’re interested in what kinds of things folks in the School of English get up to. Whatever your reason for visiting the blog today, we hope that you find the information you’re looking for.
Best,
Rob