Lucy English and Alex Calver explore language and performance at the Alpbach Forum Austria
In August 2019, Lucy English, Reader in Creative Writing at Bath Spa, was invited for a second year to run a six day spoken word seminar at the Alpbach Forum in Austria. The AlpbachForum is an international gathering of over 7,000 of the future leading minds in medical, scientific and technology disciplines.
The purpose of the seminar was to introduce participants to new ways of looking at language and performance. Lucy co-ran the seminar with Austrian performance artist Anat Stanberg, and each of the thirty students wrote and performed a piece of spoken word poetry. Due to their scientific backgrounds, the students responded analytically to the creative challenge of writing and performing. The students wanted to write to a high standard, all the more challenging as they were not writing in their first language.
By the sixth day all the students had written something they felt confident enough to perform and their work was individual, expressive and touching.
The class was assisted by BSU creative writing student Alex Calver who also devised and ran two of the exercises. After the seminar week Alex continued to create activities where the students could perform their work, such as an evening in the Alpbach bar and informal workshopping sessions.
Alex also opened the main International Evening with a poem in front of 600 people. He was a most excellent ambassador for Bath Spa and displayed all the qualities that we want from our students; energy, creativity and a desire for excellence.
Alex notes the effect of the experience on his writing:
"My eyes have been opened to a world of possibilities and potential, none of which would have been possible without my trip to Alpbach.
In fact, it was through meeting so many people at the Forum who expected me to have my own published collection, and were asking where they could buy copies, that I finally found the confidence to start down that road. My first manuscript is now the hands of beta-readers, and I aim to start submitting to publishers within the next few weeks.'
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