In this post Catriona Cunningham provides the provocation for our first ’round table’ conversation. Focusing on the activities we developed for a conference workshop, Catriona reflects on this workshop. The other members of the blog team will respond to Catriona’s poetry in the coming weeks.
If you would like to contribute to the responses, please use the ‘leave a reply’ facility below.
In their manifesto for Creoleness,[i] the three authors proclaim that their language began not with a word but with a ‘cri’ – a sound that belonged to no language, nor to a specific culture, emerging instead from the land itself.
Bear with me.
In academic practice, we have no common language, no one language but across our organisations and institutions we do share common ground: we aim to enhance teaching and learning. In our workshop my colleagues and I wanted to excavate this landscape further – we wanted to (re) enchant the Academy, sing it into being. This was no song, however, as the lyrics and melody have not yet been formed. In fact, we were forging our own ‘cri’.
In the beginning was a sound, an unfamiliar flow of words in a language
That belonged to no-one in the room.
Instead the mind attached itself to tone, mood, sounds –
A kind of primordial soup, perhaps.
Then there was a four-sided object
Around which we asked you to structure your story.
Find the common language.
Find the words.
Making connections was the next task.
Putting unrelated objects together to create
Ha. Now there’s a definition of academic practice.
Finally, we all gathered together around a shared text
Read aloud by individual voices
That were at once quiet, loud, angry, hopeful.
A pluricultural and pluridisciplinary
[i] Barnabé, J., Chamoiseau, P. & Confiant, R. (1989). Eloge de la créolité (In Praise of Creoleness). Paris: Gallimard.