I’m going back to school this week, for the first time in a very long time. I’m excited. What took me so long? I graduated with a BFA in Studio Art from Concordia University in Montreal in 1995, the year Netscape came out. Remember Netscape? No? Well it was a really big deal at the time. It changed my life, anyway. I have been using the internet as a medium for the creation and dissemination of non-linear inter-textual hyper-media narratives ever since.
I never got around to doing a masters degree, mostly because I could never figure out what on earth to do one in. It seemed silly to go get another degree in the same subject I just got a degree in. But the more work I did in areas I had never studied the less qualified I seemed to be to pursue those subjects academically. Yes, Creative Writing MA, I’m talking to you. Categories confuse me, as do departments and disciplines. Some of my best friends are academics. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. I just never met the write, I mean right M(F)A for me. Besides, I’ve been busy. The past fifteen years have been full of thinking and making and teaching and showing and writing and trying all kinds of things in all kinds of forms and forums, by writing into them, learning from them and watching them shift and change.
Things have changed muchly lately. For one thing, the non-linear inter-textual hyper-media narrative thing I’ve been slogging away at for so long is now an actual real thing. The electronic literature community has been incredibly good to me. And much of the electronic literature community’s activity is academically based. Increasingly, the opportunities, communities and collaborations I engage in are aided and abetted by academic institutions in some way. I’m cool with that. I like research. I like conferences. I especially like going to conferences and meeting fascinating people who have research labs in fascinating places which then sometimes invite me to and if I can go I get to meet even more neat new people and all the while I’m hearing about new work and talking about my work and selling everybody zines. No really, sometimes it really happens that way.
In May 2009 I went to an E-Poetry conference in Barcelona and met someone from the Performance Writing area at Dartington College of Art in the UK. Within a few months I was teaching an electronic literature workshop in the Performance Writing area at Dartington and thinking: Wow, electronic literature basically IS Performance Writing. And damn, if I had heard of the MA in Performance Writing at Dartington I would have done it years ago. But I am really glad I didn’t. Because now Dartington College of Art has merged with University College Falmouth in Cornwall, and I have been awarded a studentship to do a three-year practice-led PhD research degree at University College Falmouth in partnership with University of the Arts London. I will live in South West England, where it hardly ever snows, travel here and there, use the heck out of the nation’s libraries, meet lots of new people, try and sell them all zines and keep on doing the thinking, making, teaching, showing, writing and trying all kinds of things that I’ve been doing all along, only with funding, structure and support.
Now seems a fine time to go back to school.