OK so this is news that stays news as they say…
In 1963-4 Raymond Carver left the Iowa Writers Workshop..he drove to Sacramento.Â I have just metaphorically done the same only I don’t have a car and cannot drive (his was a battered Chevrolet not a Cadillac by the way).
I hinted at this news in previous posts but now as the paperwork almost complete I can say it.
I have left the NTU Creative Writing course. I completed one term.
The previous Fine Art M.A.was too recently completed. Too many personal politics and career questions clouded myÂ decision-makingÂ (a hangover from various complications within the School of Art and Design). Most of all I simply couldn’t face yet more modern educational tick-boxing (we call it learning outcome grids, I know I have written and marked hundreds of them) when all I wanted to do was write and make stuff. I didn’t feel like I had left work at all and I was paying for it. Â Not a good feeling. I really enjoyed David Belbin’s rigorous ‘prose poem’ classes and most of the core lectures.
I simply made a mistake by pursuing yet another M.A. within my own institution but this decision was shaped by practicalities and mostly financial considerations to do with travel. I originally looked at Sheffield University and Hallam and even Lincoln. I didn’t consider Nottingham University because I felt that would be undermining NTU to go there.
In the end I simply didn’t feel comfortable in a class mostly 30 years younger to be honest.Â I was swimming upstream in muddy water from the get-go a bit like one of Carver’s fish ( see a poem below written in 1989 before most in class were born!). I wish all the class and their tutors every success and look forward to the Anthology launch:-)
The experience has helpedÂ meÂ determine that I am not an ‘academic’ poet. Never was and never will be. I may be an academic art researcher we shall see.
I now attend monthly poetry sessions at the Nottingham Writers Studio and feel far more relaxed and creative. In all other respects things have been going very well and I could not be happier.
I intend to create as much ‘stuff’ as possible in the next few months I have left on ‘career break’ before returning to NTU SAD in July 2015.
There more than one way to catch a fish after all…
The image above is a cover of a self-made booklet of poems I made in 1990 when working at The London Poetry Library it is in their collection it is titled ‘Diesel on Gravel’
Its title and its contents reflect my discovery of Carver in 1985 through his book ‘Fires’. It contains a poem ‘Searching for a tomb’ which relates directly to the A.E.Coppard story told in another post here
Neither of us knew who that particular fish was then…
The one thing I have doneÂ properly whilst on the course, even if it made for a ‘bad’ essay, was excavating and confronting the Coppard ‘legacy’ if there is one. It was good for me to do it. I finally discovered new facts about him and read his work properly. That ghost is now laid to rest somewhere in an Oxfordshire graveyard.
Time to move on…
Which wraps everything up nicely.
Here the poem:
Searching for a tomb 1989
Sun shone warm on the bonnet
as we pulled up the gravel drive.
The old rectory stood deserted.
The congregation had been dwindling
these five years and twenty.
My father’s wellington’s flap
as he strides off through the wet grass.
I have a photo of him
sitting in his stepfather’s arms
holding a team of horses
pulling a plough aged about ten.
Here we are
Two figures caught in the open.
Standing in a churchyard.
Little Wittenham, Oxfordshire
On a frosty November evening.
My father is circling the headstones
and green iron crosses, looking.
A flock of doves twist and jink
in the blue air above us.
We stare down like two men on a bridge.
Staring into clear and shallow sunlit water
searching for the shadow of a fish.
The father he has never seen.
The grandfather I will never meet.