Academic writing courses – stifling the creative community, or a way for generation-X to find its niche in an ever changing literary world and depressing economic climate? Before I a’salt’ you all with my opinion on this, let me give my disclaimer about how I’m only 10% hypocrite, 20% preachy and 70% corrupter of the young (Socrates, I would catch you if I could). First of all, by day (and by paycheck) I run a creative writing workshop for teenagers among other pursuits. Do I teach creative writing in my workshop? No. I harbour the belief that creative writing is a combo of a few things: talent+hardwork+perserverence+an open-minded attitude (criticism should help an artist develop their skills, not be used as an excuse to damage egos!) What I do do in my creative writing workshop is give teenagers the opportunity to develop their style, find their voice in an environment where they can feel safe to share their work, edit their writing, explore POV and characterisation (in terms of fiction) and try out new styles of poetry (last week they played with alliteration, this time we might write some fun, little, school-themed clerihew to indulge their childish sides).

This week, I read an anthology of up and coming younger poets, and a few things struck me about it. First of all, surprise – I didn’t realise that at 32, I’m considered part of this generation of ‘young’ poets. Secondly, given I had an expectation of a new approach to an age-old art form, I found the verse to be a disappointment, summed up by one word: bland. Poetry should make a statement, throw an insult, do something…anything! Academia, cronyism, nepotism… anyone with £££ can pay to do a writing course. Do the postgraduate connections into the publishing world necessarily mean the work has any literary merit? Nope! I reckon the best writing out there comes from only one university in the whole wide world… a BA in Creative Writing from The School of Life Experience. As for me? I have an MPhil in Writeology and a PHD in Writeonomy. Check out my portfolio (of sorts) for details of my full poetic license. In the mean time, try this on for size:

Woodlice hate salt! As a woodlouse myself, I like to throw it over my left shoulder to blind the devil

Woodlice hate salt! As a woodlouse myself, I like to throw it over my left shoulder to blind the devil

About Leilanie Stewart

Leilanie Stewart is an author and poet from Belfast, Northern Ireland. Her writing centres around protagonists who are on a journey of self-discovery and who explore their identity by overcoming adversity. She began writing for publication while working as an English teacher in Japan, a career pathway that has influenced themes in her writing. Her former career as an Archaeologist has also inspired her writing and she has incorporated elements of archaeology and mythology into both her fiction and poetry. In addition to promoting her own work, Leilanie runs Bindweed Magazine, a creative writing ezine, with her writer husband, Joseph Robert. Aside from literary pursuits, Leilanie enjoys spending time with her husband and their lively literary tot, a voracious reader of construction vehicle books. CONNECT WITH ME ON SOCIAL MEDIA: https://mailchi.mp/17e6ca162ff3/leilanie-stewart-author

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