EACWP President’s welcome speech | Pedagogical Conference, 2021

From May, 21-23 (2021), the EACWP celebrated, along with our partners from University of East Anglia (UEA), our V International Pedagogical Conference, marking as well the half-centenary of Creative Writing innovation at UEA. Below you may find the welcome speech of our EACWP president Javier Sagarna

Welcome speech – Javier Sagarna (EACWP president)

First of all, I want to welcome all the participants to the conference. We have 2 exciting days forward to exchange our points of view, to share with colleagues, to learn and grow together as teachers, to have a look to the Futures of our discipline, and to make the teaching of creative writing across Europe and across the World perhaps a little better. Thank you for coming. I hope you ́ll enjoy the event.

Not less important, I want to thank the University of East Anglia conference organizing team for the great job they have made in building up this event. Andrea Holland, who believed in this conference and put all our efforts together to make it possible, Tessa, Sophie, Andrew, Martin and all people from East Anglia University that had worked hard for it. We couldn ́t have found a better partner for organizing this conference. Thank you very much, and congratulations for the 50th birthday of your creative writing programme, undoubtedly one of the best creative writing programmes in the World.

I don’t want to forget, in my acknowledgements, the important role and great job of Lorena Briedis, general manager of the European Association of Creative Writing Programmes, EACWP, who had worked together with the East Anglia University team and has built up our collaboration. Thank you very much, Lorena.

Every two years EACWP organizes a Pedagogical conference, each time with one of our institutional members on the lead of it. In 2012 it were Aleph Écriture and the conference took place in Paris; in 2014 it was the turn of Jyväskylä University and Orivesi College of Arts and we travelled to the beautiful Finland; 2016 took us to Italy and Scuola Holden hosted the conference; in 2018 we met in Brussels with Creatief Schrijven as our host. This time, the COVID19 crisis, made things much more difficult, but thanks to the great organization of East Anglia University here we are.

Lorena will tell you more a little later about the activities of EACWP, but I want to remark how pedagogical exchanges are in the heart of our mission. Not many people know in how many different ways creative writing and the way to teach it has been developed in the different European countries. Unlike other artistic disciplines, in many European countries creative writing has not been considered as an official teaching until the recent years (and in southern Europe this is still very problematic). That situation leaded every teacher and every school in Europe to develop their teaching on their own way, mixing their different influences with their own literary traditions.

Can you imagine how different is the Spanish way of teaching from the Finnish one, the French way of organizing a workshop from the British one, the Austrian concept of teaching poetry from the Dutch approach, a Swedish writing prompt from an Italian one? The differences are amazing, an incredibly rich variety of pedagogies and methodologies. Of course, that means we have a lot to learn ones from the others.

That ́s why from the very beginning of EACWP our exchanges have been so useful. From any conference I have attend during all these years, from any project we have developed together, I have got back to Spain with new ideas and new techniques to improve my teaching. Any time I have travelled to teach in any other institution or school around Europe, any time we have received in Madrid a teacher coming from any other partner, we have had the opportunity to learn and become better teachers, a better guide for our students. That ́s my experience, but I am quite sure that nearly all EACWP members can say the same. Sharing, learning, taking the best to build up, back home, a better methodology for helping our students to grow as writers.

That ́s what we do.
That ́s EACWP.
That ́s the kind of future we imagine.

And this is what in this conference we want to share with all of you: the different points of view of very different people that teaches creative writing in very different countries, in very different situations and cultural environments. Doesn ́t it looks like a great opportunity?

In the heart of EACWP, raison d’etre is also the determination of taking care and promoting the beautiful linguistic diversity of Europe. Our beloved mother tongues. That ́s why, having English as our communication language –and of course also as an important creation language-, we always save a place for the teaching in different languages in our events. In this conference, besides other collaborations in lectures and roundtables, we have prepared 4 multilingual workshops in French, German, Norwegian and Spanish, and I encourage all of

you to take a look at them, if you have some time.Understanding every word is not always mandatory to approach to new ideas and ways of working.

Before ending, I want to have a memory for Reijo Virtanen, EACWP founder and beloved friend of all of us, who passed away some months ago. Without him, without his friendship and his compromise with EACWP, probably we won ́t be here today. To his memory is dedicated this conference.

Thank you all for attending.