They came to us from around the world. Last year we welcomed students onto the MA Creative, Digital and Professional Writing from South Africa, Saudi Arabia, India, Italy, Ireland, Slovakia and the Ukraine, and of course the UK. Their diverse creative energies and lived experience made them an exciting group to teach, on a course that encourages – indeed demands – that they develop versatile skills. Students across the MA produced many excellent pieces of work, from which we can showcase only a few highlights here.
Course Leader, MA Creative, Digital and Professional Writing
Chasing Humans, by Seyi Sandra David. Module: Digital Video Production
Chasing Humans is a short poetic and personal film that wants to change the stereotypical image associated with young black men in London and the country. There are always two sides to a story. In the media, we always read, watch, and see the ‘single-story’ narration of young black men as gang members, and violent individuals. The film wanted to change that perception and also spread the message of love and tolerance in our society where systemic and institutional racism will be eradicated and having a darker skin tone will not be a hindrance into living a fulfilled life.
Rehabbed: A Twitter Story, by Sophie Khan. Module: Digital Storytelling
Rehabbed is an electronic literature project designed for publication via the social media platform Twitter. The narrative is centred around the account of a recovering drug addict, spending 30 days in rehab and emerging into the real world following treatment. The short story is broken into diary entries consisting of no more than 280 characters, following the structural constraints of a standard Twitter post.
The Silent Kingdom is an interactive story about activists who rose up against the Assad regime before the Syrian civil war. The reader must make choices on behalf of the protagonist as he becomes drawn into the resistance movement who are fighting to reveal the brutality of the regime to the world using films made on mobile phones. The story reflects that of other protest movements around the world who have used surveillance and social media to challenge the legitimacy of power. The story has been written on a platform called Twine which facilitates the telling of stories with multiple paths.
Marshlands, by Roger Bickmore. Module: Creative Nonfiction
‘Ours was the marsh country, down by the river, within, as the river wound, twenty miles of the sea...’ - Charles Dickens, Great Expectations. Neither land nor river, the Kent marsh is a non-binary geography occupying the fringes of the London metropolis. It is a place of nature and peace. Somewhere to exercise and observe. Somewhere to think. Stories breeze over the reeds and drift on the tide. If you are lucky, you may just catch one.
If a Woman Screams in the Forest, by Anna Svoboda. Module: Creative Writing
This piece captures the universal feelings of helplessness and isolation as a result of COVID-19 from the perspective of a woman in the wild who, while physically free, is entrapped by media-induced fears and the gendered realities of violence. Over the past few months, our homes and safe havens became our offices, classrooms, and places we were not allowed to leave. Through a series of first-person film snippets and interior dialogue, this video essay similarly explores the duality of the remote countryside and its darker purpose: a place for women to be murdered. Voiceover, video and acting by Maggie Murphy.
This piece was an assignment that I particularly enjoyed. Allowing the illness to become the narrator liberated me from the burden of my identity and allowed me to explore the memoir genre from a different, more powerful angle.
Module: Creative Nonfiction
Eat. Repeat., by Yuliia Kolesnyk. Module: Creative Writing
“Yori enjoys living in a place with a window so much... it makes her feel she achieved something.” Eat. Repeat. is a dystopian short story set in the future, around 100 years after 2020, although this is also quite a straightforward and patent allegory of life. Humanity has always found a way to find an Other and design its Enemy. It matters little who a society opts to hate: people with another sexual orientation, skin colour, concept of God, political views or skull shape. For thousands of years, we as a species succeed in finding the Other among us and fighting them. We, the Good. They, the Bad. This is the basis of any system ever created by a Human. And now, since we triumphantly entered the post-truth epoch, there is no longer the same need to carry out atrocities or battles with the Other in the name of this system; it is enough to show footage of it on the evening news. What was real and what was not? Does it still matter?
This script was something that grew from an idea or image that I had, one that stayed with me for a long time. I thought about two things that have always fascinated me - recording music and horror films. And instead of picking one, I suppose I thought – wouldn’t it be great to explore both of those things and see how they interact? I definitely enjoyed writing this and found it to be the most rewarding when you’re writing about what honestly fascinates you.
The premise for this story came to me after a chilling visit to the Foundling Museum in London, one of many celebrated institutions created for good but built on the back of the evils of slavery. The crudely etched token bearing the name James Concannon, date 1757, and the word Jamaica stopped me in my tracks and held my attention immediately. An instant feeling of dread formed into a need to tell a story encompassing the token, Jamaica and the aftermath of slavery. This first part of ‘A Name In History’ is my way of joining the dots to a history that swims just below the surface of British society. I hope it strikes a cord with readers and, in light of recent events, gives us all pause for thought. → Read A Name in History
Module: Creative Nonfiction
MA CDPW students actively participate in our new Centre for Life Writing and Oral History. The Centre launched in early March, just before lockdown, with an exciting, packed event on Writing Black Lives.