Thursday 29 September 2022

Review by Jon Wilkins of "The Author Is Not Dead, Merely Somewhere Else: Creative Writing Reconceived," by Michelene Wandor

Like London buses, good books come about in pairs.

Having read and reviewed Michelene Wandor’s Critical-Creative Writing: Two Sides of the Same Coin, I delved into an earlier book of hers about Creative Writing, and was at once captivated and intrigued, and it is not often that I have felt that about a non-fiction book. We can only admire Wandor’s own bibliography and in this book we can see why she has become such a successful writer. She ‘gets’ Creative Writing and this book will help the reader to ‘get’ it as well.

In The Author Is Not Dead, Merely Somewhere Else: Creative Writing Reconceived, Wandor has written the first history of Creative Writing, within it analysing the often complex relationship with English, literary studies and cultural theory. Scholarly, though not prescriptive, and challenging, her book presents us with an  inquisitive approach to Creative Writing that asks the reader, no challenges the reader, to look into their own practice and to see what they can add to the subject. 

Wandor looks at Creative Writing’s position in higher education, and what its future is and investigates and critiques the methodology of the workshop approach that we know so well, asking is this the right approach. Wandor looks for strategies for change in Creative Writing.  Should we be content with past practice or do we need something radically new in our approach as students, teachers and especially writers? This really is a ‘must read.’

There is so much in the book that we can learn from and can add to our own best Creative Writing practice. As Professor Philip Martin, former Pro Vice-Chancellor at DMU, says “A compelling, exciting read …” and its not often you can say that about an academic text!

The Author Is Not Dead, Merely Somewhere Else is an indispensable read for teachers and students, and all those who are worried about the future of Creative Writing, especially under our current government who seem to view creativity in all forms as subversive.

About the reviewer
Jon Wilkins is 66. He is married to the gorgeous Annie with two wonderful sons. He was a teacher for twenty years, a Waterstones bookseller and coached women’s basketball for over thirty years before taking up writing seriously. Nowadays he takes notes for students with Special Needs at Leicester University. He has had a work commissioned by the UK Arts Council and several pieces published traditionally as well as on-line. He has had poems in magazines and anthologies, art galleries, studios, museums and at Huddersfield Railway Station. He loves writing poetry. For his MA, he wrote a crime novel, Utrecht Snow. He followed it up with Utrecht Rain, and is now writing a third part. He is currently writing a crime series, Poppy Knows Best, set at the end of the Great War and into the early 1920s.

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