In my spare time over the coming few weeks, I am putting together the finishing touches for what will be my inaugural lecture at the brilliant, award-winning University of Huddersfield. Earlier in the year, I received the immense honour of becoming their Visiting Professor of Media, Strategy and Communications. My home faculty is the School of Music, Humanities and Media.
I've been trying to think of an engaging enough subject for the lecture that will hopefully appeal to a range of cross disciplinary students. A daunting, humbling and yet incredibly inspiring task. Particularly when I learned I am hot on the heels of wordsmith extraordinaire Will Self who is delivering the inaugural JB Priestley lecture there the previous week. So no pressure there then...
I've settled on putting together a critical analysis of the creative process. I have a framework of questions I will be exploring.... themes including the neuroplasticity of the brain and whether creativity can be taught, or learned. I have chosen the quote "orchids were the repository of her dreams" as part of my title. No spoilers here so more on this another time...
Inevitably, my thoughts have turned to my own time at university. I read Modern Languages (French and German) at the University of Oxford, a heavily literature oriented joint honours degree. Going to lectures and hearing the professors speak was awe-inspiring. We had between two and four lectures every morning Monday to Friday. The apotheosis for me - alongside the surreal and yet magical tutorials - in what was a truly extraordinary few years. Pure brain nourishment - stimulating, challenging, life-enhancing. I loved it. And particularly special because I was the first person in my family to get to go to university.
I'm not sure I can do justice to the tutors I learned from, but I have been told I can invite guests. So if any of you - the wonderful people who have supported SEAS OF SNOW - would like to attend just let me know and I shall add you to the guest list. Tweet me @zinca to let me know if you'd like to come. It's late afternoon on November 16th at the University.
Meantime, I am leaving you with another of my poems. This one I wrote about my Grandad, after he had died. Grandad had a dozen brothers and sisters and left school in his early teens, going on to work in the dockyard and weld ships. It makes me feel sad to re-read my poem, because I still miss him so much. But happy too as I see him and his spirit live on in my heart, and in my words, and in all of us who had the privilege of knowing him.
Have a lovely week wherever you are and whatever you are doing.
Water blue milkiness
of your eyes
Brown butter paperness
of your skin
You used to sit and do the crossword
Concentration furrows deep
Blue biro in your hand
Clues taunting you for keys
Your home was always sheening
Scent of polish in the air
Not a spot or speck of dust
Every surface gleamed and pared
Weston Mill Estate
Such a tiny haven
For us children, an escape
Soft lilt reediness
of your voice
Crinkly tan kindliness
of your face
You left school at thirteen, you said
Swam past dead dogs in the Tamar, you said
Had the odd encounter in the red light district, you said
Welded ships that went to war, you said
You nearly always wore brown or beige
And you liked ties and cardigans
With brown leather buttons
And proper slippers. Woollen ones.
‘Scarlet Ribbons’ was the song you sang for me
Melodic and serene.
You had the most beautiful handwriting
I’ve ever seen.
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