Creative Writing News & Events

School of English

Oliver Emanuel’s Flight

Oliver Emanuel’s Flight, an adaptation of Caroline Brothers’s novel Hinterland, was produced at the McKittrick Hotel in New York City earlier in the year. It is an immersive, sui generis piece, which requires the audience to wear headphones, and observe a series of tableaux which appear on a revolving carousel. It tells the story of two Afghan refugees crossing Europe in search of sanctuary. In a glowing review, The New York Times stated: ‘Though enchanting sounds like the wrong word for a work of art as intrinsically painful and political as “Flight,” enchanting it is. We project so much life onto its tableaus that they hardly seem... read more

New Zinnie Harris production of The Duchess of Malfi

Professor Zinnie Harris is producing a new version of John Webster’s The Duchess of Malfi, to be premiered at the Lyceum in Edinburgh in 2019. Of the production, Harris said: ‘In this #MeToo age of feminist uprising in the face of toxic masculinity, now feels like the perfect time to revisit this incredible, brutal story of female determination in the face of patriarchal power.’ This work follows an extraordinary 2017 for Harris, who was recently made a Professor at St Andrews. Last year three of her woks, This Restless House, Meet Me at Dawn, and a new version of Ionesco’s Rhinoceros, were produced at the Edinburgh International Festival, to great... read more

Don Paterson publishes The Poem: Lyric, Sign, Metre

On May 17th, Professor Don Paterson published his monumental study The Poem: Lyric, Sign, Metre (Faber). This work is a treatise on the art of poetry in three sections – one on lyric, the music of poetic speech; one on sign, and how poetry makes its unique kind of sense; and one on metre, the rhythm of the poetic line. The publication of the book was celebrated with an event at Toppings Bookshop in St... read more

Oli Hazzard’s second collection of poetry published

Oli Hazzard’s second collection of poetry, Blotter (Carcanet), was published in February. The book consists of five sequences, each constructed using a different process. In ‘Graig Syfyrddin’ notes on hillwalking in the Welsh marches – the poet’s former home – alternate with found text taken from an online walking forum. ‘Blotter’ is a shepherd’s calendar of sonnets composed of Russian spambot script – a mix of lifestyle advice, gaming tips, authoritarian propaganda, bucolic fragments and apocalyptic messages. ‘Within Habit’ is a series of prose poems collaged from numerous sources. ‘March and May’ comprises parallel columns of verse. ‘Or As’ is a family of 81 seventeen-syllable poems, each one an erasure of the corresponding page in a different book the poet was writing alongside... read more

John Burnside publishes On Henry Miller…

On February 13th, John Burnside’s book On Henry Miller: Or, How to Be an Anarchist was published as part of Princeton University Press’s Writers on Writers series. Previous volumes in this series have included Colm Toibin’s On Elizabeth Bishop, and Alexander McCall Smith’s What W. H. Auden Can Do For You. Publisher’s Weekly stated that this ‘provocative study makes a strong case for Henry Miller as a romantic anarchist comparable. . . to Rachel Carson, Henry David Thoreau, and Walt... read more

Lesley Glaister – The Squeeze

Lesley Glaister’s novel The Squeeze was published in August by Salt. Widely praised by a number of publications, The Daily Mail stated that ‘The Squeeze has the pace and plot points of a thriller, and the tension rarely ebbs. Glaister’s corvid eye for squalor grounds her story skilfully in the queasy humdrum even as the drama ratchets... read more

The Zoo of the New: Poems to Read Now

Don Paterson has edited (with Nick Laird) a major new anthology of poetry, The Zoo of the New: Poems to Read Now (Penguin Modern Classics). Published at the end of March, the anthology has been described by The Irish Times as a work of “inspiring reach and passion.” Don has also been included in the revamped poetry series, Penguin Modern Poets, alongside Laird and Kathleen Jamie. This volume of the series – which has already featured work by Sharon Olds, Anne Carson, Emily Berry and Warsan Shire – will be published on April... read more

Zinnie Harris productions and shortlisting

Zinnie Harris’ production of Caryl Churchill’s 2002 play, a number, opened on April 6th. Writing in the Herald, Neil Cooper stated that “in Harris’s hands, [the play] becomes an intense psycho-drama, which focuses on the play’s inherent plea for humanity in a tug of war between genetics and parental influence”. In February, Zinnie was also shortlisted for the Susan Smith Blackburn playwriting prize for This Restless House, which premiered at Citizens, Glasgow, in 2016. Mark Fisher, writing in the Guardian, called this four-hour re-working of The Oresteia “a production of depth, ambition and creepy power”. This Restless House will be revived for the Edinburgh Festival this summer, along with two of Zinnie’s new works, a version of Ionesco’s Rhinoceros and Meet Me at Dawn, a fable inspired by the tale of Orpheus and Eurydice. As the New York Times notes, for one playwright to have three productions at the festival is highly unusual. Fergus Linehan, the festival’s director, remarks that “there’s something in her plays about the fragility of civilizations. Things are always on the verge of collapse, which seems right for this moment in... read more

Ashland & Vine

John Burnside’s novel, Ashland & Vine (Jonathan Cape), was published in February to great acclaim. It tells the story of the meeting between Kate Lambert, a young, semi-alcoholic film student, and Jean Culver, an elderly woman who offers to contribute to the former’s oral-history documentary on the condition that Kate stays sober for four days. Writing in The Times, James Marriott called the novel “a drifty, dreamy, dramatic epic”. On the same day, John’s most recent book of poems, Still Life with Feeding Snake, was also published. Writing in The Guardian, Kate Kellaway praised the poems for “registering the ways in which beauty makes life worth... read more

Oliver Emanuel wins BBC Audio Drama Award for Best Adaptation

Oliver Emanuel’s radio play Emile Zola: Blood, Sex & Money has won the BBC Audio Drama Award for Best Adaptation. This groundbreaking serialisation of all 20 novels of Zola’s Rougan-Macquart family saga aired on BBC Radio 4 in 2015. Oliver has written an account of the process of creating the work for the Oxford University Press blog here. He can also be heard speaking about it on the BBC... read more