Last night, I was at the University of Leicester, reading to a forum of post-graduate creative writing students. It was a thoroughly enjoyable evening - the reading went well, and the three papers presented by students were extremely thought-provoking.
The first, by Michelle Fossey, was an extract from a novel in progress which is centred on one subject I'm fascinated by (religious cults) while analysing another (the clarity and transparency, or lack of it, of language). She also mentioned something that intrigues me - the tension that arises when conducting a solitary, private activity - writing - in an academic, supervised environment. Of course, that says something about my own writing methods and/or expectations, as there's no reason why writing should be solitary or private, but it set me thinking.
Gail Knight (I think I've got the name right) read an extract from her children's novella - as one of the other guests pointed out, even though it wasn't the sort of thing I'd expected to appeal to me, I found myself wanting to know what happened next, which I'd guess is what any writer of fiction wants more than anything.
Finally, Gwynne Harries read a number of his own poems as part of a look at the poetry of identity, and specfically dual identity (he's an English-speaking Welshman). My own mother's Welsh, so it's something I'm very interested in, and Gwynne also set me off looking into some of the traditional Welsh verse forms he touched on (I've tried the odd englyn in the past, but there's a lot more to discover), plus Rolfe Humphries, a relatively neglected literary figure these days.
Heartfelt thanks go to Rory Waterman (a very fine poet, and the man behind the excellent New Walk magazine) for his kindness in inviting me, and for the splendid curry at Kayal.