Barbara Henderson, Author at The Open College of the Arts
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Barbara Henderson


Poetry Sensory Writing Workshop

Wednesday 3rd March 1pm In this workshop we will think about the senses and how a range of sensory images can bring a poem to life.  We will consider what a cliché is and discuss some examples of these, focusing on how the images could be more original if reworded. Students will read two and […]

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Top of the ‘greasy’ pole!

Those of you who follow our OCA Creative Writing social media – in particular, the @ocawriters Twitter account – may have spotted a few celebratory posts earlier in the year. When we learned the course had achieved 100% student satisfaction in the 2020 NSS survey, we were all absolutely thrilled. ‘NSS’ stands for National Student […]

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Socially distanced, still smiling: a play for our times

If someone were to write a book of ‘Lessons from Lockdown’ – and I am sure they will! – then surely one of the most important is how much we should value the arts. How many of us were comforted during the worst times by reading, music or visual art or by being able to […]

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Assessment Reflection with Barbara Henderson

A long time ago… Back in autumn 2019 – which feels like a galaxy far, far away – OCA first piloted online submissions for the Creative Writing degree.  It made sense: writers are used to submitting work electronically, for competitions and to agents or publishers. Very few organisations expect hard copies of writing work these […]

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A diverse reading list: Starting young

In these times when we recognise the need to encourage young people to read, it’s important that children see fictional characters they can identify with. Many readers can remember that feeling when the characters they read about may as well be creatures from Mars, for all they had in common. It used to affect young readers who were working class, for example. But while representations of different social backgrounds have improved in children’s fiction, the same can’t yet be said of ethnicity.

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Calling all Level Three creative writing students!

The Creative Writing department is now offering Zoom-based peer hangouts and workshops for students at HE6 (Level 3) on a regular basis. 

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OCA Wellbeing: A trip to the bibliotherapist

Imagine going to the doctor’s and coming out with a prescription – for a good book. It’s really not as daft as it may sound. And what’s more, the notion that our mental wellbeing can be improved by something other than pills is far from new.

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OCA wellbeing: Gardening for mental health

Lockdown in mid-March prompted two responses. First was a recognition that getting outside for parts of the day without bumping into other humans would become a very valuable thing. Second, I had some new time, that used to be spent travelling and trolling the train companies about their poor service, and I could put this to good use by sorting out my embarrassing back garden.

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Student stories: A bright light in lockdown

Congratulations to OCA Level 2 (HE5) Creative Writing student Elaine Simmonds, who’s been long-listed in the second Comedy Women in Print Prize. The CWIP is the UK and Ireland’s only prize to shine a light on work by funny women. Elaine, who’s just completed her Life Writing unit with OCA, submitted her novel The Club For Mature Indulgence. 

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The writer’s role in climate emergency

It’s all too easy to feel impotent when it comes to saving the planet. We can recycle, take the bike to work, have our meat-free Mondays – and even go on a march. As writers we can use biodegradable pens, recycled paper and search engines that put their profits towards planting trees. But deep down, we fear our individual efforts are a drop in the plastic-choked, over-fished, polluted ocean. But I’m here to try to inject a little optimism. Because individual writers, and artists of any kind, can do something huge. They can change the way we think. The arts make us empathic to the plight of others and they can make us change what we do, every day.

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