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Book cover - The Cunning House by Richard Marggraf Turley


The Cunning House

Professor Richard Marggraf Turley talks to Nicola  Heywood Thomas and guests on BBC Radio Wales Arts Show about his new crime novel, The Cunning House, teaching in the department and being the University’s Professor of Engagement with the Public Imagination.  http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b055qgr0 (0.35-5.00; 22.00-24.00)




Winners of the M Wynn Thomas Prize 2015 Announced

Jamie Harris, a PhD student under the supervision of Professor Tim Woods and part-time tutor in the Department of English and Creative Writing, has recently been announced as a winner of this year’s M. Wynn Thomas Prize for outstanding academic work in the field of Welsh Writing in English. The ‘Open’ category of the prize was won by Heather Williams (Centre for Advanced Welsh and Celtic Studies, Aberystwyth), for her submission, ‘Iolo Morganwg, Edward Williams and the radically bilingual text: Poems Lyric and Pastoral (1794). Jamie’s submission, the as-yet unpublished essay ‘Iain Sinclair: “Born in (South) Wales, 2001”’, is the winner of the ‘New Scholars’ category.

According to the press release, ‘the judging panel (Dr Matthew Jarvis, Aberystwyth University/University of Wales Trinity St David, Dr Aidan Byrne, Wolverhampton University and Dr Alyce von Rothkirch, Swansea University) were hard-pushed to arrive at a decision. The panel felt that the winners’ work showed exceptional scholarship as well as the willingness to explore new territory.’

The prizes will be awarded at the annual conference of the Association for Welsh Writing in English, ‘The Country and the City: Rural and Urban Wales’, to be held at Gregynog Hall, Powys, 27-29 March 2015.

Kate Hamer: Guardian's New Faces of Fiction 2015 

A former Creative Writing MA student the Department has been featured in the Guardian's 'New faces of fiction 2015'. Kate Hamer's debut novel Girl in the Red Coat is published by Faber & Faber and is available from the 15th of March. 

Read the article here.  

Agri-tech and the Arts: From Barns to D-Space

 Over the holidays, Professor Richard Marggraf Turley gave a talk on Romantic painter John Constable and technoethics at the well-known Chaos Computer Club’s annual Congress in Hamburg. Richard often speaks on the intersections between literature and contemporary science/tech, and in this talk  he addresses food security, austerity, agri-tech and food riots. Among other things, he was promoting his new co-authored book, Food and the Literary Imagination (2014).

A video of Richard's talk can be found here

REF 2014

Ranked in the top 50 departments for World Leading and Internationally Excellent research.

Medicine Unboxed Prize

Professor Tiffany Atkinson has won the £10,000 Medicine Unboxed Creative Prize 2014 for a forthcoming collection of poems exploring the themes of pain, illness and recovery. The prize is part of a national project aimed at connecting the practice of medicine with the discourses of the arts and humanities. Tiffany, who lectured in the Department for many years, was recently appointed to the prestigious post of Professor of Creative Writing (Poetry) at the University of East Anglia, but continues to supervise PhD students at Aberystwyth. She has published three volumes of poetry, most recently So Many Moving Parts (2014), which was a Poetry Book Society Recommendation. The new collection will be published by Bloodaxe. Full story. 

Katherine Stansfield Writes Poem of the Week

Only a few months after a poem by Tiffany Atkinson was featured in The Guardian, another poet with strong connections to the Department has achieved the same distinction. Dr Katherine Stansfield took her BA, MA and PhD degrees at Aberystwyth, then became a lecturer in the Department, before leaving to concentrate on her writing. ‘Canada’ has been selected by poet and academic Carol Rumens for her popular Poem of the Week column. Professor Rumens writes:  “‘Canada’, from Katherine Stansfield’s lively first collection Playing House, has some of the restless complexity of a Baroque fugue.” Katherine recently won the £250 first prize in the Penfro Book Festival Open Poetry Competition for her poem ‘The Woman on my National Library of Wales Library Card’. Read the poem here. 

English Student wins Prestigious Award

Aberystwyth PhD student Tyler Keevil has won the $10,000 Journey Prize, awarded for the best short story of the year by an emerging Canadian writer, for his short story ‘Sealskin’. Tyler, who works as a lecturer at the University of Gloucestershire, has been a creative writing student at Aberystwyth since 2008, having taken an MA here before embarking on his PhD. His first novel, Fireball, was published in 2010, and was followed by a second, The Drive, in 2013. ‘Sealskin’ is taken from his first collection of short stories, Burrard Inlet, which was published this year by Parthian Books. The judges wrote: “‘Sealskin’ is a stunner. Tyler Keevil has accomplished something rare: a story about rough masculinity that brims with emotion and pathos.”

Read more here.

Celebrating popular children’s writers of the past

Dr Beth Rodgers published an article in The Irish Times this week to mark 100 years since the death of LT Meade, who was the JK Rowling of her day but is now a largely forgotten figure in the history of children’s literature. Check it out here

Beth will be talking more about her research on Meade at the department research seminar on Wed 3rd Dec at 4.15pm (Room D54).

Beth was also on the airwaves last week discussing a much more familiar name – Enid Blyton. Following the news that The Faraway Tree is to be made into a film, Beth appeared on Radio Ulster to talk about Blyton in the 21st century. You can hear the discussion at 1 hour 53 minutes from the following resource 

Keats in Three Crowds

Amid the Mediterranean’s “balmy zephyrs” and autumnal “streams of light”, Professor Richard Marggraf Turley gave a keynote lecture at the University of Cyprus’s international “Romanticism and the Future” conference. The two-day event was held in the House of Arts and Letters (pictured) in Paphos. His paper, entitled “Keats in Three Crowds”, discussed the English Romantic poet’s experience of surveillance culture in 1819, and identified new contexts for the composition of the famous ode “To Autumn”. Earlier this year, Professor Marggraf Turley delivered the opening keynote at the first Keats Foundation conference at Keats House, Hampstead, also on Keats’s experience of State eavesdropping. A co-authored new book, written and researched with Jayne Archer and Howard Thomas, Food and the Literary Imagination, is published later this month, and includes a section on the Romantic poets: http://bit.ly/1wuGoDJ



LBA Prize for Fiction 2014                                          

Congratulations to undergraduate student Camilla Woodrow-Hill who has won the 2014 LBA Prize for Fiction with her novel Cadence. Camilla graduated this week with a BA in English and Creative Writing.

The annual LBA Prize is a long-standing partnership between the Department of English and Creative Writing at Aberystwyth and Luigi Bonomi Associates (LBA), a leading London literary agency. LBA was established by literary agents Luigi Bonomi and Amanda Preston in March 2005. They represent a wide variety of best-selling and prize-winning authors, journalists and writers, including Fern Britton, Josephine Cox, John Humphrys, Gervase Phinn, Alan Titchmarsh, Terry Wogan, and former Director of Creative Writing in the Department, Jem Poster. The prize is only open to students in the Department of English and Creative Writing, with the winner meeting Luigi to discuss their work and to learn more about the publishing industry.

Luigi was very impressed by Camilla’s work: ‘Cadence is a vibrant, original take on a rarely seen mythological creature. We loved the Siren storyline, and think the plot is adventurous and exciting. The writing is young and captures the teenage setting perfectly - Molly comes across as someone with whom we can empathise and who is genuine, while Theo is captivatingly mysterious. Cadence has the potential to become a YA hit, and is a fantastic example of the extraordinary level of talent exhibited by this year's competition entries.’

Camilla is delighted to have won: ‘I really am beyond thrilled. I think there's a common idea that YA fiction isn't “literary” enough but it's always been what I love most. There's no way I would have expected to win. I know how talented the other people writing at Aberystwyth are!’

Dr Katherine Stansfield, Lecturer in Creative Writing and LBA Prize Co-ordinator in the Department, congratulated the winner: ‘We’re all delighted for Camilla. Meeting with Luigi is a fantastic opportunity for her to receive feedback on her writing from a major figure in commercial publishing. The standard of entries from our students is always exceptionally high so to win is a major achievement. The continuing relationship between the Department and LBA demonstrates the Department’s commitment to supporting students in securing publication of their work and learning more about careers in the publishing industry.’

Thanks to all who entered this year’s competition. Details of the 2015 LBA Prize will be announced in the spring

Literary prize success for department students!

We’re very proud to say that a third of the writers nominated for this year’s Welsh Book of the Year award are current students or graduates of the department. Current student Jemma King’s first collection of poetry (also shortlisted for the Dylan Thomas award), and former students Fran Rhydderch and Tyler Keevil’s first and second novels were picked from over 100 books as representing the very best writing in Wales today. More details can be found here: http://walesbookoftheyear.co.uk/2014-award/

'Engage 2014' Competition

Professor Richard Marggraf Turley has been invited to join the panel of judges for the National Co-ordinating Centre for Public Engagement’s “Engage 2014” competition. The Award Ceremony will be held in June at the Natural History Museum.

 Aber lecturer’s poems featured in the Guardian


Dr Tiffany Atkinson, Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing

So much cold
even the moon can't swallow it
or the harbour in its fishy dark. You
balance your breath like a bowl of dry
ice. It's all a mistake, this body,
this job, this love. Somewhere inside
where the heart spins hard on its string
is an animal watching. It scratches
at night, perhaps a beak or a tusk,
is neither kind nor unkind, just restless.

So much rain
even the deepest hill can't filter it
or the river with its open gills. You
carry your heart like a full dish of blood.
It's all such a blessing, this body,
this job, this love. Somewhere inside
where the lungs stretch their intricate wings
is an animal watching. It wriggles
at night and shows its belly or its tender scales,
is neither kind nor unkind, just restless.

Published in the Guardian 15.2.14 as ‘Poem of the Week’. Tiffany’s poem ‘Autobiograpy Without Pronouns’, the Guardian’s poem of the week in April last year, can also be found on their website. Catulla et al (Bloodaxe Books, 2011), her second collection, was shortlisted for the Roland Mathias Poetry Award (Wales Book of the Year) in 2012 and was a TLS Book of the Year. Her third collection, So Many Moving Parts (Bloodaxe Books, 2014), is a Poetry Book Society Recommendation.

Being Human

The department has been successful in bidding with partners for funding to take part in BEING HUMAN, the UK's first national festival of the humanities, led by the School of Advanced Study, University of London, in partnership with the Arts and Humanities Research Council and the British Academy. The bid was submitted by Jacqueline Yallop as part of her recent research SIP project, and is a partnership with the University of Sheffield and Ruskin's Guild of St George. The money will fund a day of talks, public activities, films, projections, displays and artworks in November 2014, celebrating Ruskin's phrase 'There is No Wealth But Life.'

Stormy Weather

New Year got off to a memorable start with the worst storms in living memory! Luckily the bad weather passed off quickly and, despite the dramatic pictures, there wasn’t any damage to any of the halls. First year Beth Shepherd lives in the seafront residence and said “after the brief evacuations, which were dealt with well, everything returned to the normal 'routine' the day after - I felt that although the disruption was a tad frustrating, it was extremely good of the university staff to make our wellbeing and safety their priority. Plus, free food for a weekend? I won't lie, that was pretty awesome.”

Research News

Professor Sarah Hutton has been invited to be a member of the moderating panels for two AHRC funding schemes: the Research Grants scheme and the multi-dsiciplinary Science in Culture scheme. AHRC moderating panels play a key role in deciding the outcome of applications for research funding by making funding recommendations on the basis of the peer review reports on funding applications

Employability Event

Seventy-six undergraduate students attended the employability event on February 24th. Designed as a round-table discussion, the 2-hour seminar focused on possible careers in publishing and welcomed five speakers from across the UK: a commissioning editor, a literary agent, a marketing specialist, a commercial writer and a publishing intern. All the speakers were eloquent and encouraging, allowing students to better understand the structure of the profession and the opportunities available.

Aberystwyth academics awarded M. Wynn Thomas Prize

Two members of the English and Creative Writing Department at Aberystwyth University were presented with literary prizes at the launch event of the International Journal of Welsh Writing in English on Wednesday 16 October.        Professor Sarah Prescott and Dr Mary Chadwick are both winners of the M. Wynn Thomas Prize for 2013 and were presented as part of a special celebration event, held at the Callaghan Lecture Theatre at Swansea University.

The M. Wynn Thomas Prize is offered to celebrate outstanding scholarly work in the field of Welsh writing in English. There are two prize categories: the ‘Open’ category and the ‘New Scholars’ category.   Professor Prescott, Director of the Institute of Literature, Languages & Creative Arts (ILLCA) at Aberystwyth was successful in the ‘open’ category and her one-time PhD student, Dr Chadwick, in the ‘New Scholars’ category.

Sarah Prescott spoke of her pleasure at receiving one of the awards; “Professor M. Wynn Thomas’ own work has been ground-breaking in pushing back the period boundaries of Welsh Writing in English.     “As such, I am honoured to receive this prize as part of my own contribution to the on-going reconceptualization of this literary field to include women writers from the seventeenth century such as Katherine Philips. I am also delighted that Mary Chadwick, whose doctoral thesis I supervised, is succeeding so well in this increasingly vibrant and growing area.”

Professor Prescott’s essay on Katherine Philips and Archipelagic Coterie Space is based on research funded by The British Academy for the 'Women Writers and Wales, 1600-1800' study, and is to be published in Tulsa Studies in Women’s Literature in 2014.

Major publishing success for our postgraduate Creative Writing students

Congratulations to Kate Hamer, an MA Creative Writing student in the Department of English and Creative Writing, who has just secured a two-book deal with publisher Faber. Her debut novel, The Girl in the Red Coat, will be published in 2015. Faber have called Kate a 'distinctive new voice in British fiction'. Read the full story here:  http://www.thebookseller.com/news/faber-buys-hamer-debut.html?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter

Kate's success follows hot on the heels of Eliza Granville, one of current Creative Writing PhD students, whose novel Gretel and the Dark will be published by Hamish Hamilton, an imprint of Penguin, in February 2014. Read more about the novel here: