Writer in residence: the Manchester Museum

Malachite clock (detail), Manchester Museum

At the very beginning of this year I decided that throughout 2014 I would appoint myself the unofficial writer-in-residence of a variety of establishments. Over the year I have written about five different residencies, placing myself and my notebook inside a dance studio, an office, Sicily, the spotlight, and the North. I have also (and unexpectedly) found myself an official residency, working within the very splendid Manchester Museum. My title there is Researcher in Residence, and early next year I will be leading a series of creative writing and storytelling workshops around the Museum’s Siberia: at the Edge of the World exhibition.

Since becoming a student again in September and embarking on a PhD in creative writing, there is a lot in my life that has much more of an official heft to it. Reading about fairy tales and writing and thinking about poetry is now my real workaday-work, and I am still settling into that idea. I’m also thinking about how to keep the official heft out of my creative writing (where it becomes unnecessary ballast), and suspect the fairy tale form has a lot to teach me on that front. Fairy tales are inherently irregular and surprising; they both unnerve and delight, and are prone to shooting off into the realm of the astonishing, the ridiculous, and the surreal. In 2015, that is the land I will travel through with my pen and my notebook, hopefully leaving all scholarly pretensions far behind.


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