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Women, writing, Santiago

In tough times for gender, stories and contemporary Britain, some respite.

Much exchange and enthusiasm for exchange of ideas on Contemporary Short Fiction by Women at the University of Santiago della Compostella: two glorious days in late spring, blossom, geese by the pond, laughter, good food and first rate students. It's impossible to relate a conference as though it's a play, so I can't offer a summary with much confidence. I had already been corresponding with the Professor Sacido Romero recently on a brace of subjects, not least the question of how stories arrive upon the page at all, if "authorial intent" or definitive interpretations have any place in 'understanding' a book, a story or a poem at all (I'd say definitely not, else the story would be written to death/ a manifesto/a kind of puzzle and not much more) which sparked the invitation. It was a chance, finally, to meet and enjoy the kindness and company of Professor Jorge Sacido Romero, Laura Loro Rodreguez and a very fine list of word-workers, but it was more too. I had not expected the flowers and the numberless birds, the wide-awake noises of the geese across the grass, the ancient corners of the city still alert and operational - and such enthusiastic folks and students alike. The content of our few days study was one thing: to experience such pleasure in the open-minded and eclectic discussion of ideas is quite another. Sometimes it's possible to forget this facet of work is still out there, still cared about. In these difficult times, it helps us all to hang in there. Thank you thank you.

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