Creative Cork: writing course taps into a rich heritage
In a region bristling with talented writers, UCC’s new MA in creative writing is ‘long overdue’
Jools Gilson: ‘The distinctiveness of this MA programme is that it’s really grounded in the locale of Cork’
It has renowned writers living and working in the city and county as well as popular literary festivals attracting leading novelists, short-story writers and poets from all over the world. Now, Cork is adding to this with an MA in creative writing.
The UCC course, starting on September 16th, will explore creativity through fiction, poetry and life writing. Creative non-fiction modules include courses on food writing, and there will be a course on the practicalities of getting published. Dr Jools Gilson, from UCC’s school of English, one of the tutors on the programme, says she and her colleagues “are very keen on the connection between the academic and the professional world”.
“To make that connection very practical, we have a course called the Business of Writing. It’s about bringing in agents and people from the publishing and literary world, to talk about how students can get their writing out into the professional world.”
As well as traditional publishing, there will be advice on the digital world, online publishing and blogging. “There will also be a focus on writing in relation to arts festivals, galleries and writing in the community. This will lead to a placement. All the students are required to spend a period of time in a professional context where they can use their writing skills.”
Fifteen students have been accepted on to the course, including Cork-based writer Madeleine D’Arcy, who has won a scholarship for the master’s, awarded by UCC.
“Considering that the number of postgraduate students in the arts has been down in recent years, we’ve had a healthy amount of applications, about 40,” says Gilson.
Long in the brewing
The introduction of an MA in creative writing at the university has been “brewing for some time”, with Dr Eibhear Walshe from UCC’s school of English pushing the idea. It was given impetus following the recent appointment of Prof Claire Connolly as the new head of the school.
Gilson says: “The distinctiveness of this MA programme is that it’s really grounded in the locale of Cork. There’s a very rich heritage of writers in all genres both in Cork city and county as well as in Munster. We have a commitment to engaging with that incredible richness.”
Some of the country’s most famous writers have studied or taught at UCC, including Frank O’Connor, Seán Ó Faoláin and John Montague. Notable poets associated with the university include Tom McCarthy, Paul Durcan, Theo Dorgan, Leanne O’Sullivan and the late Seán Dunne.