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American poet inspires budding writers at Edge Hill University

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American poet, writer and translator Forrest Gander has completed his time as International Writer in Residence in the UK.

Forrest who is known worldwide for his influential poetry, essays, novels and critiques, spent time at Edge Hill University in Lancashire.

After launching his residency with a public poetry reading, Forrest held one-to-one tutorials with English students and shared his experiences as a writer.

He said: “It’s been really exciting for me to meet with staff and students and it’s given me an opportunity to see what the younger generation of writers are doing.

“I’ve had residencies in China and Latin America but coming to the UK has been fascinating. Different countries have different circumstances and it’s really great to read work in UK English as opposed to American English as it’s very different.

“The work I’ve seen from students has been fantastically varied, visionary and experimental as well. I’ve heard about students using computers to generate language and discussed really spiritual poetics.”

Giving advice for aspiring writers, he added: “Not to give up, it’s really easy to give up as there’s so little support out there, despite poetry being the bedrock of most civilisations.”

Postgraduate student Louise Fazackerley who is studying an MA in Creative Writing, said: “Forrest was so generous with his time, praise and critique. I showed him a cycle of poetry and he said my attention to sound and imagery was impressive.

“I’ve just edited them in response to his critique and he even suggested I contact him when, not ‘if’ I get a book tour in America which is really encouraging.”

Second year Creative Writing student Nathaniel Mercer, said: “Being with Forrest was one of the most resonant experiences I’ve had while studying. I enjoyed discussing our shared love of fungi and mycology, poetics of course, and talked about our griefs and their relationship with our poetry.

“His sensitivity to relationship and his deliberate communication was inspiring: he carries conscious attention carefully and wonderfully. A real connection was made in our short time together that will stay with me and sustain my writing life.”

Forrest is the University’s third resident writer as part of a scheme initiated by James Byrne, Senior Lecturer in Poetry and Poetics and Co-Director of Edge Hill University Press.

James said: “Forrest is star quality, one of the major American poets since the second world war. I’m so pleased the Edge Hill community were able to benefit from his ethical approaches to writing and sharing ideas. From what I’ve heard from students, he’s been a revelation to those who have worked with him.”

Forrest’s residency was sponsored by the British Council and the University’s Department of English, History and Creative Writing.

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