A week-long intensive visit in May 2013 from Jean McNeil, senior lecturer at the prestigious MA programme at the University of East Anglia, was the first time that we had contact with a professional writing teacher of international standing. We learned much in a short period.  She was already in the country, teaching at the University of the Western Cape, and her visit to Grahamstown was sponsored by the Rhodes Research Division as a Mellon Visiting Scholar.

Two other visitors in July and August were Canadian poet, short story writer, and writing teacher Carole Langille, and US novelist Patrick Flanery, whose first novel Absolution has won him an international reputation.  Carole ran a very productive poetry workshop attended by 12 Grahamstown poets, while Patrick’s seminar covered revising a novel and the publishing process.

For the month of October 2013, Prof Lance Olsen was a Mellon Senior Scholar at the MA in Creative Writing programme at Rhodes.  Olsen, is the author of eleven novels, two books on innovative writing, and several collections of stories.  He gave three public lectures on aspects of contemporary literature, and on academic scepticism about creative writing.

In addition he ran a weekend two-day seminar on the teaching of creative writing. Taking part in these 14 hours of intensive discussion were teachers in the MACW programme from Grahamstown, Port Elizabeth, Johannesburg and Cape Town, and others engaged in teaching writing in Grahamstown and elsewhere. His seminar gave expression to what the great artist and educator Joseph Albers (1888-1976) referred to as a “pedagogy of learning" rather than "a pedagogy of teaching.”

It explored the teaching that occurs in the ideal creative writing workshop as encompassing the developing of aesthetic appreciation, problem solving, critical thinking, self-discovery, curiosity, being in the world, process, how to read, failure as an index of possibility, and the building of trust to facilitate honesty. In addition Olsen facilitated discussions on innovative/experimental writing, the role of reading, intervention in students’ writing, and grading.

Read the full report here.

In 2014, Donald Parenzee (March-June) and Denis Hirson (July-August) visited the MA in Creative Writing programme as Mellon Writers in Residence. Hirson was born in South Africa but has lived in France, where he works as a teacher and writer, since 1975. He has published five books, all of them concerned with the memory of the apartheid years in South Africa, all of them crossing the frontier between prose and poetry.

Aside from hosting seminars and readings, Hirson launched In the Heat of Shadows: South African poetry 1996-2013 (Deep South, 2014), an anthology featuring work by 32 of South Africa’s poets including Mxolisi Nyezwa, Vonani Bila, Joan Meterlerkamp and Robert Berold, all of whom teach on the MA in Creative Writing programme at Rhodes.

In September 2014, Noy Holland, an Associate Professor in the MFA Program for Poets & Writers at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, visited the programme. Holland’s collections of short fiction and novellas include The Spectacle of the Body (Knopf), What Begins with Bird (FC2) and Swim for the Little One First (FC2). She has published work in Conjunctions, The Quarterly, Kenyon Review, Western Humanities Review, The Believer, NOON, New York Tyrant, and Post Road, among others. Her first novel is due for publication in 2015 (Counterpoint Press).

Last Modified: Thu, 18 Sep 2014 08:58:21 SAST