Spotlight: Creative teaching nurtures award-winning British writer

Source: Xinhua| 2017-10-13 04:43:54|Editor: An
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by Xinhua writers Gu Zhenqiu, Zhang Dailei

NORWICH, Britain, Oct. 12 (Xinhua) -- British writer Kazuo Ishiguro, newly awarded Nobel prize in literature, said that his tutors at the University of East Anglia (UEA), including Angela Carter, never asked to see his homework after he started a one-year program of creative writing for an MA degree in 1979.

Ishiguro, who was initially wondering if the prize announcement was a case of "fake news," said Wednesday night that winning the well-known prize "was totally unexpected."

"My teacher didn't see my thing unless I showed her," Ishiguro said of his experience as a student at the university while speaking to an audience of more than 700 as a special guest at the UEA's annual Literary Festival, his first public appearance since he won the 2017 Nobel prize in literature on Oct. 5.

"Angela is a great, inspiring teacher," he said. "She never asked to see my work."

Ishiguro's remarks was echoed by Professor Andrew Cowan, director of creative writing at UEA, who told Xinhua that "as teachers, we take the credit, but we really did not do the work of teaching."

At UEA, the first university to establish the program of creative writing in the UK, "we provided a space to somebody who is really serious about writing and works to be a writer," Wowan said.

"It's not really the teaching as you imagine," said the professor, who enrolled himself into the creative writing four years after Ishiguro.

The university, which was established in 1963, paid great attention to the learning atmosphere fostered through the flexible teaching methods, Professor Philip Gilmartin, UEA's vice chancellor in charge of science and international cooperation, told Xinhua.

"Some of the courses that are taught clearly have set curricula, and students have to undertake specific pieces of work," Gilmartin said. "But we also try building the programs that are opportunities for self-perfection, the opportunities to work together with other students of peer-to-peer learning as well as the form of traditional academic learning."

The university ranked among the top five of the English mainstream universities over the past decade for student satisfaction, he said. "So, student satisfaction is very important to us."

UEA is located in Norwich, about 160 kilometers northeast of London. From the Middle Ages until the Industrial Revolution, Norwich was the largest city in England after London, and one of the most important.

During the Wednesday event, the 62-year-old novelist told fans seeking writing advice that he "doesn't know" how he writes his books and admitted he doesn't think he is "very good at prose."

"I don't think I'm very good at prose, there are people who write better prose than me," he said.

Ishiguro, who was born in Nagasaki in Japan but moved to the UK when he was five.

He is the first graduate of UEA's school of literature, drama and creative writing to be awarded the prize.

"We were very proud," the vice chancellor said of his first reaction to the announcement of the literature prize this year. "We were very proud that one of our students won such an acclaim."

Ishiguro, author of novels including "The Buried Giant", "The Remains of the Day" and "Never Let Me Go," was praised by the Swedish Academy for novels which "uncovered the abyss beneath our illusory sense of connection with the world" and were driven by a "great emotional force."

The writer, with his two novels already adapted into films, also revealed he is currently working on a comic and admitted that he doesn't really understand poetry.

The students practised writing novels, Cowan said, adding that about six publishers or literary agents were invited to school receptions to talk with his students every year and they also recommended their work to publishing houses across the country.

"Among all the students' work, about 40 percent get published every year," he said. "That's a quite high rate."