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Archive for June, 2008

Yes, this sounds like the title of one of my course books this year (in fact I’m sure it is), but it’s also something that fascinates me, both as a creative individual and as someone who cares about the things that nourish goodness in society

A degree in creative writing was ultimately a lot of fun. It was also a lot of hard work, and incredibly fulfilling. It was cathartic, self-challenging and revelatory. The writing we did was creative, was a product of creativity, and the creative process was something that was discussed in the commentaries we submitted alongside our portfolios for assessment. The commentary that complemented a portfolio was supposed to illuminate the process of writing: where the idea came from, how it was developed, what reading was done to supplement the subject and style, what research was done, and demonstrated one’s understanding of genre, style and command of language.

The finniest thing about these dissections of my writing was that they were usually written in hindsight, rather than being the true depiction of the conscious process i went through when writing the particular poem or story. I would appropriate things that I’d been reading to say that they’d contributed to my narrative style, and justify it too. For when I looked into the heart of what I’d written, of what often came seemingly “from nowhere,” I could see the effects of authors, poems, knowledge and my own experience embedded in the work. This was obviously not coincidence, it was the product of a process of which I was not always aware.

It was in my masters degree in Creative and Media Enterprise that this “process” of creativity was explored more thoroughly in our Theories of Creativity module. Here, my eyes were opened to the theory and scientific work that has gone into explaining, or attempting to explain, creativity as a concept and process. As a “writer” (for I’m still weary of awarding myself that title) I was fascinated by the almost mechanical workings of the creative process, and yet also its effervescence, evading any concrete cross-disciplinary explanation because of the “pixi dust,” “X-factor” or whatever else people call the “eureka” moment that occurs when a creative idea is born.

My interest in the subject broadened with the management literature, societal theory and views of guest speakers on the course, and my focus has shifted from how people attempt to explain creativity (for that, in my opinion, is a discussion which will never really end) to the purpose of creativity in its social context.

Why is creativity important? It is the seed of innovation, and the reason for development, both on a technological and natural level. It is also something within the possession of every man and woman. Why is it, then, that creativity is often perceived as being something bestowed upon certain people in society? There are many myths surrounding creativity, which have given way to stereotypes and alienated some people from perceiving themselves as creative. What effects has this had on our society? How does a lack of creativity manifest itself?

I hope to pursue this topic in my course dissertation, specifically looking at social groups who are deprived of creativity, whether it be through opportunity or self-perception, and the effect of an input of creativity into their community. Is creativity something that is necessary to the well-being of everybody?

My ideas, as I am sure you can tell, need firming up, but I hope that this research will lead me somewhere interesting. I hope it will lead me closer to the essence of creativity and the importance of it in our lives, whatever exactly “it” may be!

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Well, I am on the mend from a bout of tonsilitis, which has forced me to take some rest – the first true break I’ve had since last summer. I have had holidays, yes, but they have either been sleepless family affairs, or I have had projects to pursue while on holiday. I suppose my body just gave up and said “F*^k you, I need time off!”

Its timing wasn’t brilliant – getting ill caused me to cut short my stay at the Hay Festival last thursday!

Until I became ill, Hay Festival had been a whirlwind of fun, hard work, learning, meeting some incredible people and listening to some top music. I didn’t see too many events during the day as I was interning for the festival press office, but I got to look after a couple of authors and sneak out every now and then to catch something I really wanted to see. Though I didn’t catch any of the huge festival headliner authors/speakers, I saw some events which I may not have otherwise seen but am glad to have attended. Eevnings off also meant I caught some incredible music, and overall (without listing everything) my personal festival highlights were:

Tinariwen

These desert Tuaregs from Mali put down their guns and picked up the electric guitar in the riots against the Mali government to use music to campaign for their equal rights. Music is more than just a pastime for Tinariwen, and it is a family affair: the whole tribe is involved in music making and this is reflected by the fact that the band changes a couple of members every time they tour. I’ve seen them four times now and each time, without doubt, there have been one or two new faces among the band members.

Their music sits somewhere between blues and African traditional melodies, in a unique, soulful and uplifting sound. Listen here.

International Fiction

Sasa Stanisic & Joseph O’Neil

This event was designed to be a cross-section of good international fiction. It turned out that both writers were preoccupied by the subject of identity, specifically identity negotiation between two, or more, cultures.

I had volunteered to cover this event on behalf of a friend (also interning), and it turned out to be of great interest as I am personally preoccupied also with the question of identity when caught between two cultures, places, traditions and languages. It’s something I’m trying to deal with in my current project and listening to these two accomplished authors speak on the subject was inspiring and encouraging. They have both dealt with the topic in different ways but there are common themes that lace their way through both novels. Storytelling, the importance of interests, food, and pastimes from the homeland feature heavily, conjuring memory and nostalgia.

I am yet to finish reading both books, but what I have read and heard rate them highly on my list!

Seckou Keita Quartet

Seckou Keita is a Senegalese griot master of the Kora, an African instrument akin to the western harp and lute, though it can have up to 25 strings. Keita appeared at Hay with his culturally diverse quartet – the double bass/electric bass of Davide Mantovani (Italy), the distinguished sound of the violin by Samy Bishai (Egypt), and the eclectic percussions of Surahata Susso and enchanting voice of the gracious Binta Suso, Seckou’s younger brother and sister.

Seckou’s music carries the flavour of traditional Senegalese music, but has a fresh kick with the influences brought to it by the western elements of violin and double-bass. The percussion is superb, and Binta’s voice is absolutely sublime, especially when she lets go at her full volume. Seckou’s own Kora playing is unique with his very own Kora tuning style, and it has earned him a place among the most innovative and creative African Kora masters alive today. His compositions incorporating the quartet are succinct, subtle, and new.

As a fan of fusion music, I was moved and inspired.

These don’t even scratch the surface of what Hay had to offer, and for more events and info visit the website where most of the events are available as podcasts. With everyone from Jimmy Carter to Jaimie Oliver, and Salman Rushdie to Karen Armstrong, this years festival was a cultural triumph.

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Imagination

Taken in Shakespeare and Co Bookshop, Paris in July 2006.

This is a place where every lover of books must endeavor to visit.

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Thank you, wordpress.

Yes welcome all of you to my new blog. It has migrated from its former Warwick University location (http://blogs.warwick.ac.uk/enuecm), along with most of the old posts, to a new identity – Wolves and Lovers. The title of this blog can mean anything you want it to – it’s from a line in a piece of my writing which I happen to quite like.

I hope that this blog will encourage me to write more often, about all sorts of things, and engage with online writing more actively. I also hope it will bring enjoyment to those who stumble upon it.

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Came across this collaboration between Chris De Burgh and Iranian
pop band Aryan. Now, I’m not a pop-lover, and have never listened much
to Chris, but this video made me happy. It’s a rare fusion between an
established Western musician with an Iran-based group. Though western
influences have been used and fused with Iranian styles of music for
decades now, it is seldom the case that within Iran east and west come
together physically, and with such good quality as this.

I hope to see more collaborations like this on in the future!

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