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Students who know they want to become writers apply to Teddy Hall for good reason.They're aware that talented writers of every description have read English here, and that the English Department is proud of this longstanding tradition.
Creativity can’t be taught, but it can be actively encouraged. Whether you're an aspiring novelist, poet, playwright, journalist, or academic, you'll need feedback on your work. That's why Lucy Newlyn, poet and Fellow in English, regularly runs extra-curricular workshops.
Lucy (in collaboration with Hall poet Jenny Lewis) used workshops in 2000-2001 as a means of enlivening Critical Commentary classes. At this time she was putting together an anthology of Hall writing, to celebrate the Cornish Chough -- a bird which features in the college's coat of arms, and which was beginning to re-settle in Cornwall after years of absence. Some of the early workshops involved poems collaboratively written on this theme, and they made their way into the anthology, Chatter of Choughs.
The workshops have developed from there, undergoing many transformations. Lucy has been joined in running them by a sequence of colleagues -- Jane Griffiths, Wes Williams, Sandie Byrne, and most recently Peter King.
In 2002-4, Lucy Newlyn and Jenny Lewis investigated the benefits of integrating creative writing into the academic study of English. The experiment was funded by the Institute for the Advancement of University Learning, and involved small workshops with Hall undergraduates. We published the results in Synergies: Creative Writing in Academic Practice. The project received excellent reviews and our methodology has been adopted by several creative writing courses elsewhere.
Above right: Christopher Ricks (then Oxford Professor of Poetry) opens the launch of the second volume of Synergies: Creative Writing in Academic Practice at Blackwell's in 2004. (Read about Synergies in The Guardian and BBC News.)
We're still actively encouraging creativity at the Hall. We've enjoyed the privilege of teaching prize-winning poets such as Caleb Klaces, Charlotte Geater, and Amy Blakemore, who had launched their writing careers by the time they took up their places. Several of our recent English graduates have gone on to take Masters courses in Creative Writing; others are already established and award-winning writers.