In the Welsh village of Hay-on-Wye, the 2010 Hay Festival of Literature and Arts came to a close on Sunday. Although primarily associated with books and their authors, the festival has expanded into comedy, musical performance and film previews. Among the guest line-up this year were the usual array of literary giants, as well as internationally-renowned academics, and a few MPs – Deputy prime minister, Nick Clegg was a guest on the last day and spoke of the government’s ambitions for electoral reform.
Staying with the theme of literature, I enjoyed reading a co-authored interdisciplinary paper this month in TIBG. Writing together from the University of Exeter, Cornwall, geographer Catherine Brace and Adeline Johns-Putra, from the department of English, describe a project that was conducted between academics from literary studies and from geography. The aim of their project was to explore the creative writing process; firstly from the perspective of writers engaged in the process of writing for pleasure and, secondly, to question how the ephemeral practice of writing can be captured and understood. The concept of inspiration plays a significant role in this article, as do representational and non-representational theory. The paper ends with the observation that “the acts of reading aloud to other writers, sharing writing and giving and receiving criticism form part of the performative element of being a writer”. This is where literary festivals, such as Hay, become important events, not just for authors, but all sorts of writers, thinkers and, of course, the audiences.
Read about the 2010 Hay Festival through its sponsor: The Guardian
This week, the All England Lawn Tennis Club announced the appointment of Wimbledon’s first official poet, Matt Harvey. The author will delight tennis fans during the tournament by providing versified chronicles of this year’s events. His creations will be published online on Wimbledon’s official website – www.wimbledon.org – and the Poetry Trust website – www.thepoetrytrust.org– and also as podcasts. Additionally, Harvey will entertain the public via Twitter and by reciting his poems to the queues of patient tennis fans. The iconic space of Wimbledon will provide a dynamic backdrop from which the poet will draw his inspiration, a process which has already started with his first lyrical composition “The Grandest of Slams”.
The relationship between ‘inspiration’ and the places where it takes place is at the centre of a forthcoming article in Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers by Brace and Johns-Putra (2010, early view). Writing from the collaborative nexus between geography and literary studies, the authors set off to recover the concept of ‘inspiration’ (which they explain, has been subjected to strong criticisms in literary studies, 2010:2) because of the compelling meaning that this concept still holds for those who write for pleasure. By engaging with representational and non-representational theories, the authors investigate the “elements of inspiration” (2010: 13) through discussions with their participant writers in an attempt to represent the ineffable creative process.