21st century essayist new creative writing lead

The northern Irish essayist and religious studies academic Chris Arthur is OCA’s new creative writing curriculum lead. He succeeds the Man Booker long-listed writer Jane Rogers, who has stepped down to concentrate on her writing following the success of 2011 novel The Testament of Jessie Lamb.

Chris’s essay collection Words of the Grey Wind was published in 2009 by Blackstaff Press . According to fellow Irish writer Patrick O’Sullivan, ‘Chris Arthur is the Irish writer who has been quietly rescuing the meditative essay for the twenty-first century.’ His fifth collection, On the Shoreline of Knowledge, will be published later this year by Sightline Books, an imprint of the University of Iowa Press devoted to creative non-fiction.

His four essay collections are Irish Elegies (2009) published by Macmillan, and Irish Haiku (2005), Irish Willow (2002) and Irish Nocturnes (1999), published by The Davies Group .

You can read examples of Chris’s work, including complete essays, through his website www.chrisarthur.org.

Awarded a first class honours MA by the University of Edinburgh, followed by a PhD, both degrees in religious studies (and both with an emphasis on philosophy and eastern religions), Chris has worked as a TV researcher, school teacher and nature reserve warden. After post-doctoral fellowships at Edinburgh and St Andrews, most of his academic career was spent at the University of Wales, Lampeter. When he left in 2010 he was senior lecturer in religious studies. As well as supervising religious studies MA, MPhil and PhD students, and teaching on Lampeter’s undergraduate degree programmes, he was involved in creative writing seminars, readings, workshops and summer schools with the Department of English.

A member of Irish PEN since 2005 and of the International Association for the Study of Irish Literatures, he is the recipient of literary awards including the Theodore Christian Hoepfner Award, the Akegarasu Haya International Essay Prize and the Times Higher/Palgrave Macmillan Writing Prize. In addition to his essays and poetry, he has written journalistic pieces for publications including The Scotsman, the Times Education Supplement Scotland, the Times Education Supplement, the Times Higher and the Sunday Tribune (Dublin) and published several academic books.

His creative work has appeared in many of the leading North American literary journals, including: The Antigonish Review, Descant, The Literary Review, Mississippi Review, North American Review, Northwest Review, Orion, Southern Review, Southwest Review and the Threepenny Review. On this side of the Atlantic he has been published in, among others, The Honest Ulsterman, Irish Pages, Poetry Ireland Review and Wasafiri.

Chris says: ‘I hope my long experience of working with student writers, and my own familiarity with the highs and lows of a writing life, will allow me to make a positive contribution as curriculum leader. I’m looking forward to working with OCA’s team of sixteen creative writing tutors. Their range of interests means OCA has the resources in place to offer expert one-to-one tuition to students across a wide variety of genres.’

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