Introduction by Gerald Dawe
Work in progress as a phrase has always fascinated me. It suggests the fluid possibility of writing; writing as discovery; the chance of coming across something new; an angle of sight, a turn of voice, the room for a different, distinctive view. Gathering together a group of committed writers, taking them through their work and the progress they individually, and collectively, want to make has been one of the best experiences of my teaching to date.
Under the auspices of the School of English, Trinity College, Dublin a pioneering graduate programme called the Master of Philosophy in Creative Writing started life in October 1997. The project, which has been in planning stages for quite some time, finally kicked off and now, nine months later, housed in the Oscar Wilde Centre in 21 Westland Row, Dublin, this sample of the writers' work is published as a mark of work done. Westland Row includes all of the participants in the inaugural M.Phil in Creative Writing. The fiction, drama and poetry included within has been edited by the Class of 97 as has the entire production of this volume. The diversity of Irish, British, American and European voices, and the merging of these, as we discussed and examined writing, echoes throughout Westland Row, both the house and the anthology. For many of the writers included in Westland Row this is a first publication; for others, with book ñ publication behind them, this sharing of space is something that characterised the year of work. For everyone concerned, the future is, in the short term, all about finalising of the portfolio. Beyond that the first book, a new book.
Westland Row the place has also provided another kind of space: to live in and to think about writing as a practical, dynamic thing to do; while the image of Oscar Wilde beginning life here plays an unobtrusive harmony to the day to day business of the house. Like Brendan Kennelly, I am very proud to have worked with all fifteen of these writers represented in Westland Row. I hope you enjoy this first anthology of the work and keep an eye out for them in the years ahead. I know I will.
Gerald DaweJune 1998
Introduction by Brendan Keneally
The Creative Writing class of 1997-98 was the first such ever in Trinity College. It was most enjoyable. Hard work, but enjoyable. I recall the long classes in the dark Winter nights of Michaelmas, classes that often ran to four, five or even six hours, on a couple of occasions. What impressed me most was the students' willingness, to write on set topics, to read their writing to their colleagues and myself, and to give and accept criticism in a buoyant, sometimes comic spirit. We had disagreements, of course, which, while they never quite went through the roof, did resound eloquently about the table.
What was most striking about that Michaelmas class, and also about the class of Hilary term, was the combination of slogging and what one might call inspiration. That term 'Workshop' -we just took it literally. Everybody just worked and worked. I think it paid off. Writing led to a lot of rewriting; the result is the emergence of collections of work which I think many people will find interesting. The pieces included here give a good idea of the variety and quality of that work.
Finally, may I say what a pleasure it was for me to meet the members of that class of '97 -'98. Witty, dedicated, articulate, scrupulous students and writers. It was a privilege to work with them on long Winter nights and bright Spring mornings. I look forward to reading them again and again.