It’s Official!

Yep that’s right, I now prefer Ormskirk to my native hometown. I’ve been talking a bit lately about the importance of the location of your university because most students will be living away from home for the duration of their higher education. As I was on my ‘Easter break’ (see my earlier post for why this is something of a misnomer) back in Morecambe, I genuinely really missed Ormskirk.

A big part of it is the social side. It’s a bit of a cliche, but the friends you’ll make at uni really are friends for life, and it was tough to be away from them after living in a house together. But I also missed the town itself, its convenience of shopping, its great pubs and, of course, my ‘home away from home’ on the mostly student populated Wigan Road.

The only criticism I have of Ormskirk, really, is that it’s lacking shops for young people, HMV, Primark etc, but Liverpool is only half an hour away on the train, and that has everything you could want in a city and more. It’s easy to make comparisons to what you know, but looking at it objectively, Edge Hill really couldn’t be anywhere better. Everything you need and plenty of what you want right on your doorstep, and then even more on top of that just a stone’s throw away. I can’t believe I ever missed Morecambe!

Here’s a wee site I found that tells you more about what’s going on in Ormskirk http://www.thebestof.co.uk/local/ormskirk/events. Music events, comedy and more are on it, including updates from Edge Hill’s very own Rose Theatre (both film and performing arts), so you can never say you’re bored around here! On a further note about the Rose Theatre, you can find it on facebook (as with everything these days!) or check out the site http://www.edgehill.ac.uk/rosetheatre/whatson.

I’m spoilt rotten, that’s why I love Edge Hill!

Success!

Great news – one of my poems is going to published in Edge Hill’s Question Mark, a magazine showcasing students’ poetry and even photography. I’m really happy to finally be published but hopefully it won’t end there! There are many more ways to be published at Edge Hill and I’m hoping to take full advantage.

If you’re into writing poetry, there’s also the Rhiannon Evans award for students showing promise in writing poems. If you win, there’s even a cash prize of £500, which isn’t to be sneezed at by any means.

Of course, some people prefer fiction and they are well catered for too. There are a couple of short story prizes, one of which is the Jo Powell crime fiction prize that I aim to enter soon. It was set up in memory of Jo, who I’ve had the privilege to be taught by for two years. MA students can enter this one too, so there’s quite a bit of competition, but what better way to challenge yourself?

What you’ll also find inspiring and supportive is the facebook group that students can join, where links to competitions are regularly posted, along with notable writers’ work, industry updates and more.

So I’ve had a taste of success, but I want this to springboard me on to greater things. When you come to Edge Hill, you too will have all these opportunities. The atmosphere really couldn’t be more encouraging and, potentially, lucrative. What more could you want?

Looking Forward

Well folks, unless you’re on a gap year or currently out of education then it’s the Easter break! There’s a bit of a difference between the holidays I used to have back in the old days of secondary school, namely that there’s more work to do when you’re at uni. Hey, this isn’t a moan though. This is what us students sign up for, though, and since I’m in my final year I’m enjoying this final push before graduation.

There’s still plenty of work to do with my creative writing: I’m ploughing on with my long script, my collection of poems and have to figure out my poetics. For literature I have a pretty long essay to do on the nature of the Modernist period. The subject I have most of a ‘holiday’ in is language, because I don’t have any more assignments, just an exam.

This is just to give you guys an idea of the responsibilities that you have when you’re a student. That’s not to say that now the beer garden weather is here I’ll be stuck inside working all the time. Far from it, given all the places to go to in Ormskirk!

Things at Edge Hill at the moment are great, the course is getting more and more enjoyable as the end draws ever nearer and, even though it’s the break, I’m still very much looking forward to getting stuck in 🙂

Just One of Many

In this post, I’m going to be talking a bit more about some of the sports and activities facilities and what they do around campus at Edge Hill. It’s following on from my post ‘Plan of Action’ (http://blogs.edgehill.ac.uk/martin/2012/03/04/plan-of-action/), so you might want to check that out if you haven’t already.

This is a true story about my first year at Edge Hill, and it’s one I think people should know because it can be quite a daunting thing for some people, coming to a big ol’ university from a familiar environment. It started, as a great many new experiences will for you, with the Fresher’s Fair when a representative from Sporting Edge (that’s the sports centre on campus) handed out some fliers. In amongst the list of prices and classes was a bunch of tokens for free trial lessons of yoga, pilates and the like.

I thought of myself as more of a gym or badminton person, and at first turned my nose up at doing pilates. It was only when one of my new mates from halls asked if I’d go along with him that I gave it a chance, but I’m so glad I did. The experience of the class was great, it was really well run and they were supportive of beginners, but for me the main thing was that I was getting out there, meeting new people and not sitting around in my room like a hermit.

I checked out the fresher’s fair this year, held in the new HUB building, and Sporting Edge were still handing out their freebies, so hopefully they carry on doing it when you arrive. So I guess the point of this post, now I’m reaching the end of it, is to reinforce just how many chances you are given at Edge Hill to get out there, have a blast, socialise and learn new things. Pilates is just one of many opportunities…

The Big Buzz

When you come to uni, there’s one thing you’ll realise very quickly; your campus lives and breathes with student activity. Often you’ll walk through your gates and you’ll be hit with a buzz, a palpable electricity in the air, permeating clothes and touching skin.

Election time around Edge Hill is unrivalled for the atmosphere it creates. There are posters everywhere, representatives organizing and hosting awareness events (the new HUB building is a great space for this, pretty much everyone’s passing through a few times a week) and sometimes free lollies (who said bribery doesn’t work 😉 )!

The real point of blogging about the elections for those thinking about coming to Edge Hill is to get you thinking about the opportunities you will get here. Have you got aspirations to be a team leader, events manager, even politician? Well then uni-level politics is a great place to start. When you come to writing a CV, employers will snap you up because you’ve shown good communication skills with your team/potential voters, worked as part of a team, shown leadership skills and so much more.

And hey, maybe you’re more like me and would prefer not to be in the spotlight? Well, any student here can take part in the elections. Not only do you get the chance to change the university for yourselves and others, but you also get the chance to develop your own skills, views and awareness.

If that doesn’t get you buzzing, nothing will!

Plan of Action

I’m starting to think that I should have jumped on the ol’ ‘New Year’s resolution’ bandwagon when the time came around… I must admit that the takeaways around Ormskirk (Domino’s in particular) have started taking their toll 🙁

But no, this is not a mopey and egocentric post! I’d never do that to you, dear reader. Instead it is a post telling you what I hope to do to help, and also what you can do to keep fit when you come to Edge Hill.

I go to badminton twice a week which is good fun, but perhaps not enough to lose some of this weight. There are so many sports societies out there: football, rugby, handball and basketball to name a handful, certainly something to interest everyone. Aside from the competetive sports, though, Edge Hill has plenty more options to get us students off our bums. You’ll probably know that there’s a centre on campus, called Sporting Edge (check out the website for more info http://www.edgehill.ac.uk/edgehillsport/), with multi-courts for football, badminton and squash etc and a well kitted out gym, but did you know we have a swimming pool too? Oh yes we do!

So you now you know, when you come to Edge Hill you have no excuse to sit around vegging all the time, sports students or not. The takeaway part, well, that’s up to you!

I Spy With My Little Eye…

A new sculpture on campus (sorry, this was supposed to be posted last Wednesday, but apparently my new phone doesn’t like my laptop so I can’t upload a picture of what I’m talking about)! It’s outside the library, so if you’re on an open day you can see it there (sorry!).

I know that might not seem all that newsworthy, especially compared to the building of The HUB, but I think it’s important. For a lot of students, coming to uni means staying away from home for long periods of time. We have folk coming here from all over the country and beyond, and it’s easy to miss home, friends and family. But, apart from being in the nice town of Ormskirk and near the great cities of Liverpool and Manchester, the campus itself at Edge Hill does its best to keep vibrant. After all, it’s one of the main reasons why I chose Edge Hill over some of the other places offering the degree I wanted

This is something not a lot of other universities have thought about, and it means that some students are having to spend time not just away from the familiar, but in a dull and, sometimes, depressing environment (I won’t name any universities in particular…). When you come to Edge Hill, though, it’s so easy to feel at home. If you haven’t heard that we have a lake on site, then you really haven’t researched your uni very well! But yeah, the lake, the ducks, the sculptures and the greenery all make the campus a place you actually want to be, even over home!

Another Visit From a Legend

To anyone thinking of coming to Edge Hill to study Creative Writing, I’ve got to say that you’re thinking of a great choice. Last Friday we were visited by Cliff Yates, a poet, who came into our class to read some of his poetry and do some writing exercises with us.

I saw Cliff a year ago at a reading at The Rose Theatre on Edge Hill’s campus, and I really like his poetry. It is warm, amusing and evocative, yet can be very poignant and startling too. As a man, he really is the epitome of a good bloke: open, talented, energetic and friendly. The session he ran went really well, I’m actually developing a poem further that I wrote in one of the exercises.

When you’re looking at universities, ask exactly what you’re going to get out of it. Edge Hill’s Creative Writing tutors are all published and practising writers, but the course is never allowed to get stale with the inclusion of these visiting writers. They really do bring a fresh burst of inspiration into the room and, if you have your common sense hat on, they bring an opportunity to expand your network of contacts in the industry.

Your course will benefit you massively in what you want to do with writing; your skills will vastly improve and your employability will be better. What more could you ask? Oh yeah, your course will genuinely be fun, inspiring and awesome, take it from me!

If you’d like to know more about Cliff Yates, here is his blog: http://cliffyates.wordpress.com/

The Forefront

Today I thought I’d blog a bit more about my poetry classes, being fairly controversial as they are at the minute. I don’t mean controversial in a bad way, but they are dividing opinions amongst me and my friends, so I thought I’d let applicants know what they may be letting themselves in for!

The module I’m studying has been titled ‘Experimental Writing’ by the tutors, and it certainly does have a feel of alchemy about it. It essentially deals with multi-sensory approaches to poetry (for the mind, the ear and the eye). I’m sure we’ve all been brought up on the kind of poetry that rhymes and conforms to a certain metre (Sonnets being a classic example of people counting out syllables), so when you learn in the first year that ‘to rhyme is a crime’ and making the metre regular is a waste of time, it’s a bit shocking. This module goes ten steps beyond that, believe me!

An alphabet-structured poem using associative cognitive methods of writing sounds interesting. A poem involving two different words (‘like’ and ‘attracts’) placed in a certain way around the page is bizarre. Poems inspired by the five vowels, including Monty Python-esque screeching in their performance are unsettling. This is a small sample of what we have covered in one lesson. That gives you a flavour of what we look at, and you might be like some of the students who say ‘that’s definitely no poetry’. You could be like some of the others who say ‘there’s method in that madness’. You might even be like me, you can see the pros and cons and aren’t really sure what poetry is anymore (not that I’m sure I’ve ever really put my finger on it!).

But in this kind of confusion, in this place that is so far out of our comfort zones, there is a rich diversity of new possibilities for writers. Right or wrong as our opinions may be (if there is such a thing in this case), the potential is immense, and I think that if you want to come to Edge Hill, you have to be prepared to walk the untrodden paths, get a little lost in it all but be safe in the knowledge that your hard work is going to produce breathtaking results in the end.

P.S. The poem featured at the top of the page is the one that’s currently on our module handbook, Bob Cobbing’s ‘Square Poem’.

Film Festivitites

 Last Wednesday saw the 49th Annual Ann Arbor Film Festival come to the Rose Theatre at Edge Hill. I can’t pretend that I understood all of the films, some of them being quite obscure and ‘arty’, but that didn’t stop me from having a really good time. The night opened with a film (called ‘Nulepsy’ if I remember correctly) featuring a naked old man on a skateboard and ended with a Chinese animation that… how do I put this? Let’s just say a frog with a human face was singing pop music (‘Hand Soap’). So the festival certainly wasn’t lacking any variety, and also some rather trippy visuals!

The story of getting the festival to the university is interesting in itself. One man’s vision to share the festival with a UK audience has taken four years, and certain changes of employer, to be realized. Better late than never, I say! The good news is that he hopes to carry on supporting the festival, and even wants to see an Edge Hill student win one of the prizes some day. I think that’s a fantastic idea and I’ll certainly want to pop into the Rose Theatre, even when I’m no longer a student, to watch.

If you want to know any more about the film festival itself, click on this link: http://aafilmfest.org/49/index.php/events/category/animation

If you want to know more about the Rose Theatre on Edge Hill’s campus, take a look at this: http://www.edgehill.ac.uk/rosetheatre That’ll tell you more about the types of thing you’ll be able to enjoy when you come here. They’ve also got a facebook page, so ‘like’ that and you’ll automatically get updates.