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My Warwick Life: David Morley


David MorleyThe My Warwick Life feature gives an insight into staff and students’ lives at Warwick, considering both their work and social life on campus. This week we hear from David Morley, Professor of English and Comparative Literary Studies.

A trained ecologist, David has published nine books of poetry and recently edited The Cambridge Companion to Creative Writing. Alongside his role as Professor of Writing, he directs the Warwick Writing Programme and is a National Teaching Fellow.

There’s no such thing as a typical day, but, in a nutshell, my job involves…

directing the Warwick Writing Programme and the Warwick Prize for Writing. Our excellent team is not just working with students and writers here and now but configuring and recreating the international worlds of writing and publishing in the future. It’s like being Dr Who! The University now has one of the best writing programmes in the world, and places are highly sought after. Our ambition is to be the best writing programme in the world. And to have more fun than anybody else in the field. The Writers’ Room in Millburn House is The Tardis - jump in.

I had a really useful meeting recently with…

our new professors of creative writing, David Vann and Ian Sansom, who will be taking up their posts later this year. They’ll take the writing programme (and the university) in amazing new directions. David Vann has a plan for creative writing PhDs and an ambitious outreach project. Ian Sansom is reinventing publishing in ways which take the best of the traditional and weld it into the very edge of new media.

It would be really useful to work even more closely with…

Monash University. We carried out a great project with Monash writers last year and produced two super books. We launched them at the Melbourne Writers Festival. The next Warwick Prize for Writing will take nominations from staff and students at both Warwick and Monash universities and that is very exciting from the point of view of making the prize a global event. I like the Oz outback too, and travelled through 600 miles of it solo.

I recently attended an event where…

I sang my poems from the pulpit of Helpston Church to a group of environmental writers, broadcasters and activists. My favourite poet John Clare is buried in the churchyard.

I'm really enjoying working on…

my latest poetry collection because it has a mind of its own. It’s going to be a novella made up of about sixty sonnets, each of which is a scene with dialogue - like a sequence of little linked plays. I had no idea this was going to be the final shape but creativity always surprises you out of yourself. It’s also funny, and there’s a fight.

I've only just realised that…

what we are building through the Warwick Writing Programme pretty well reflects exactly Leonardo da Vinci’s Principles for the Development of a Complete Mind: ‘Study the science of art. Study the art of science. Develop your senses - especially learn how to see. Realise that everything connects to everything else.’ I think we should have T-shirts with this message.

Warwick's unique because…

creative writing students can, if they choose, take modules in science and social science. They explore these subjects for language and material that they might use later in creative writing, and develop a more worldly-wise profile. And they act as ambassadors for creative thought and practice among students and professors they might not otherwise encounter. As a trained scientist, I approve.

The best thing about working at Warwick is…

the university is positive about enterprise and understands that fantastic creative projects can emerge from engagement with the world outside without making the false assumption that one of those worlds is more or less real than the other. It is a very un-English university in this regard and better for it.

If I could change one thing about Warwick it would be…

the sine-wave pattern of weekly teaching. I would like to create some system in which we worked with our writing students more intensely but over a shorter time, possibly in remote residential centres or using Warwick’s Palazzo in Venice.

I'm really glad I got involved with…

the Digital Communications Team. Over the past few years, we have worked together on podcasts, internet films and all sorts of new media creative stunts which had never really been tried before. I love their energy and sense of fun.

I recently went to the Arts Centre to watch…

'Salavagepunk' and learned more in one hour about the creative process from China Mieville and his crew of writers than I would have learned from a month of reading.

I'm an occasional user of the Sports Centre for…

the rock climbing wall. It is a long way from my native stones of Lancashire but it allows me to pretend I can still climb.

I recently had lunch at…

the University House cafe with Janey Walker, the Director of IGGY. I think that IGGY’s new plans for creative writing sound great. I always like having meetings at University House because you bump into dozens of people you mean to have meetings with, and then those other meetings are done…

I usually travel to campus by…

car, with my two-year old son Edward, while listening to 20th century classical music at full volume. He dances about in his car seat and then goes to our beautiful university nursery for a day of play, adventure and learning – which is kind of what I do too.


If you'd like to be featured in a future My Warwick Life piece, please email internalcomms@warwick.ac.uk and we'll email the questions out to you.