You’ve checked out the brochure, the books and the tutors, but what’s SUISS really like? Here’s our amazing 2018 alumni Sarah Paterson on her experience of the Creative Writing course. We just love the creative way she’s summed it up. #suissin60seconds
Watch our talented 2018 Alumni Kristen Cervenak explains what studying creative writing at Scottish Universities’ International Summer School is like in under 60 seconds… wow! #SUISSin60Seconds
Don’t just take our word for it, here’s our wonderful Charles Wallace fellow from 2018 Amrita Shenoy explaining why a summer at SUISS is for literature lovers everywhere – in just 60 seconds! #SUISSin60seconds
To all our lovely Alumni (students and staff): We want to hear about your experience and what SUISS means to YOU too! Join the #suissin60seconds campaign and upload your video and/or photos to our Facebook or Instagram page, and share with us your favourite SUISS memories!
The ‘Cinepoems Challenge’ is a new event on the SUISS programme for our Text & Context: Modernism and Creative Writing students. The challenge began with a workshop on the first Thursday of the course, where students were introduced to the cinepoem – a fusion of poetry and film – which has a particularly rich history in Scotland. We began by thinking about the links between cinema and poetry, especially in early Modernism, before going on to view some of the work of Margaret Tait, an innovator in what she called ‘filmpoems’ and a seminal figure in Scottish cinema and poetry. We looked at how Tait’s work has influenced a number of contemporary cinepoets in Scotland and beyond, showcasing some recent cinepoems and reflecting on our responses to them. At the end of the workshop, students were challenged to make their own cinepoems over the weekend. These were premiered the following week for the whole group, with a prize for the winner (as judged by the SUISS Directors). In 2017 our students produced six amazing films, solo and in small groups, which demonstrate an incredible variety of aesthetic and poetic approaches, and explore everything from the joyous cacophony of the Edinburgh streets, through the found poetry of Sherlock, to the lyrical reflection prompted by summer rainfall. Congratulations to our 2017 winner Lisa Degens for her cinepoem ‘Greenhouse’ and to all our wonderful cinepoets. You can view all our 2017 cinepoets’ finished pieces below and on our Youtube channel. We hope you enjoy them and get inspired to experiment making your own!
Lisa Degens’ winning entry, ‘Greenhouse’:
‘As of Today’, dir. by Piotr Szymczak and featuring Sara Dhurjon, Henry Hamilton, Vanessa Tai, Viktoriia Ivanenko, Anthi Cheimariou, Sumantra Baral, Regina Rangel, Amaie Elizalde Estananga:
Madhav Mehrota’s ‘Drops of Water’:
Anthi Cheimariou’s ‘From the Perspective of Jospeh Bell’:
Sophia Archontis’ ‘The Sounds of Scotland’:
Ashmeen Bain’s cinepoem:
We are very pleased to announce that the workshops for our 2016 Creative Writing course are now confirmed! We have talented, award winning writers who will guide students through a wide range of writing activities and discuss their writing process. Our schedule for these workshops is as follows:
15th July: Zoe Strachan on Fiction Writing
22nd July: Stef Smith on Playwriting
26th July: Colin Herd on Poetry and Art
28th July: Loud Poets and Performance Poetry
1st August: Ken MacLeod on Science Fiction
We’ll have more specific details about these workshops soon, but we are honoured that these talented writers will be part of SUISS 2016!
Our full reading list and more information can be found on our Creative Writing Course program page.
Text & Context tutors must be postgraduate students or postdoctoral tutors/researchers from one of our 7 affiliated universities.
Creative Writing and Theatre & Performance tutors do not necessarily have to come from our affiliated universities, but should be UK-based.
To inquire and/or apply, please see the details of the job postings here:
*Please note, for Text & Context, our tutors only teach a single two-week module, from either Modernism, Scottish Literature, or Contemporary Literature. We do not hire tutors to the full six-week course.
*This is a guest post by one of our 2015 Creative Writing students, Maire Kashyap, from Australia:
If I were to write a fringe show, that’s what I would call it. Edwin Morgan’s “Sssnnnwhuffffll?”s and “doplodovok”s would be replaced by our own snippets of nonsense; “Forrest, you’re just like Marcus!”, “tiny, tiny Friday”, “crisps? Chips! Chips? Crisps! Chips. Crisps?”, “Man legs. I’m fifty-six.” Like another Morgan poem, “The First Men on Mercury”, it would end with the moment we switched cultural languages, as Jackson egged Emily on to “skol” her drink, while I sat next to him chanting “chug, chug, chug,” having swapped our Australian and American drinking vernacular over the four weeks we had spent together.
In this alien city of Edinburgh, we exchanged more than our words though. We exchanged stories; opinions (sometimes a little too enthusiastically); recommendations of films, galleries, authors, places; bewildered looks as we were ceremoniously presented plates of haggis, neeps and tatties at our “Burns Supper in July.” Importantly, we exchanged Facebooks and phone numbers, so we could be sure our parting farewells weren’t forever.
Surrounded by inspiring, creative people, and provided with platforms to write, discuss and learn from each other, I’ve taken up a few opportunities unique to these exceptional circumstances. I’ve played Romeo in a contemporary interpretation of Shakespeare, ground-breaking enough to rival Calum’s performance poetry. I’ve written flash fiction on a Wednesday, and with the help of my tutor Defne, edited it ready to perform to my peers at open mic night on Friday. I’ve driven to Skye and back in half the time it’s supposed to take to drive there because apparently “German” is a synonym for “drives too fast.” Or maybe that’s just Stina. I’ve been dangerously close to setting off a smoke alarm in the medicine building while carrying a cake with twenty-one candles for Maurisa’s in class birthday celebration. I’ve listened to more ideas in workshops, performances and masterclasses than I could possibly have imagined. And probably a similar amount sitting in pubs and dorm rooms from late nights to early mornings.
Whether it be expressed through raps exalting Professor Terry Eagleton, cringe-worthy “fashion shows”, personal essays, earnest renditions of Canadian folk music, or time lapse photography of the sunrise from Arthur’s Seat (kindly shared with those of us too lazy to make the hike at 3:30 am), I know that everyone else appreciated their time here just as much as I did.
“Have you taken something?”, my concerned boyfriend asked, when I got home and called him on Friday night after the farewell party, talking at a rate almost as fast as Stina’s driving. “No!” I replied, “I just have so much to tell you.” It had only been two days since we last talked, but so much had happened in that time, so much that meant something to me, so much that I wanted to communicate. And to inspire (almost) coherent strings of words like that is the best thing a writing course could do.
At the Farewell party for this year’s modernism course, our student Rosa Schwenger from Germany shared a brilliant poem she wrote about her experience at SUISS. The poem was a hit – Rosa was thanked with an enthusiastic standing ovation, and there were a few teary eyes in the crowd. She has graciously agreed to share the poem here with you as well. Anyone who has studied on our modernism course will probably relate to her words as much as her classmates did. Thank you, Rosa!
Rosa Hits Enter At A Lot Of Random Places
Disclaimer: All mistakes are done on purpose, obviously.
All misplaced, superfluous or lost commas are my intention.
All weirdly worded ideas are exactly what they are supposed to be.
Everything is on purpose when the purpose is to be
thrown into the cold grey weather waters
not knowing what to make of anything.
Waves of clouds clashing, whirls of winds dashing
at the periphery of our expectations,
their meaning being entangled like a knot of rain, wind and trees
while gloomy buildings watch all of our cautious steps through the seas.
And if not now then at the end we
will have fought through this jungle of modern isms and survived,
if we all follow the same threads or not.
A physical journey posed Arthur’s Seat
and from up there
the two-weeked future mysteries of an unknown world unfolded in front of us
the excitement is palpable
(who is he even?),
you can feel the suspense in the air
(never heard of this guy, to be honest),
we saw moments of greatness not only flicker but maybe burn
(or got it trust upon us)
just shortly before lots of anger aimed at structures and codes,
though not at the play at hand,
the lighting of the rainbow coloured ceilings, walls,
diverse and overflowing as
all the colours of the voices of Dublin
we tried to understand.
And yes, you can watch your language
when what’s said is so vivid that it doesn’t matter
which sense makes sense
at a time
is space, space is time
when chaotic confusion reached its peak
with elusive allusive Eliot.
HURRY UP PLEASE TIME FLIES SO FUCKING FAST
when you‘re having fun-
damental thoughts and stuff.
We have no idea what we’re doing
but surely some revelation is at hand
(not to use the word with E).
Instead of inhabiting a waste land
we danced in a stuffed hall
but unparalyzed and with
rhythm and direction
in not one but many voices which led us around the intangible center of trauma.
Our plunging was more of a stumbling
search for the clearest sound, the sharpest memory.
We will buy this heap of broken flowers ourselves
paying with coins that are more confusing than any stream of semi-conscious ideas could ever be.
When opening this door to prose experiments
In the literary middle – literally the middle – of our journey
we yearn for poetry even though we may not confess it, so
make me king as we march towards a
new wor(l)d order
in India. But this could be anywhere, really
where unknown people meet people they know even less
and politics and fear do the talking.
Prepared like this we visited the parliament
but exhaustion often surpasses political ambitions as we
slouch towards the edge of the end of modernism.
In soft entropy and gyre-ish shapes
we examined the terrible beauty of
words, but also trees and grassy patches
greyscale mazes and empty melting landscapes
in colours which shine with an absence of brightness
so that you dont know if to say
good morning, midnighters,
or good day, children oft he light.
I AM NOT your window to a reality normal people can’t see,
I AM NOT the truth behind.
I am the total distortion of time space meaning
of ‘when have I eaten showered talked to somebody last?’
of being unpleasantly surprised to still be alive but
what to do what to do
what ever is there to do.
I tried to measure out the evenings mornings afternoons
but what means measuring
what means –
It is not that I do not want to be happy
but I cannot remember what wanting means, or happy for that matter;
emotions are not even up for debate when they become the most foreign words of all.
I would gladly set these words on fire
and all my other ones
and those I haven’t written yet
if this could keep the imminent permanent constantly calling
waves of sticky black tar at bay
which suffocate me, and no matter how hard I try to breath I will drown
Writing this today I cannot now what tomorrow might bring
but neither did Orwell nor Huxley and did they let this stop them?
This is just to say:
we will fare one another well
(whatever that means, words are so weird, have you ever looked at them?)
and then will be catapulted into a future of undefined dimensions
and –isms yet to be explored.
© Rosa Schwenger, 2015
This work remains the property of the author.
Rosa Hits Enter At A Lot Of Random Places by Rosa Schwenger is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
In week one of our SUISS programme this year, we were absolutely delighted to welcome back one of Scotland’s finest contemporary writers, James Robertson. James is the author of five novels, including The Fanatic (2000), Joseph Knight (2003), and The Testament of Gideon Mack (2006) – a firm favourite in the SUISS office, and the last text on our Scottish Literature reading list.
James is a well-kent face here at SUISS! He has read for us a number of times, and is always brilliantly entertaining. This year he kept us enthralled with a reading from his 2013 novel, The Professor of Truth, and he answered lots of our questions on topics ranging from creative writing, to Scots language, to Scotland’s independence referendum. Thanks for being so generous with your time, James!
If you feel like reading some of his work, you’ll find a link here to a poem that James read to us at SUISS. We loved it – we hope you do too! James Robertson’s ‘The Heron’