Professor Abi Curtis
Professor of Creative Writing
I studied English Literature, before going on to a Masters in Creative Writing, which was still quite a niche subject back then. I'd always loved writing and I got some poetry and fiction published and it took off from there. I moved up from Brighton when a job came up here, back in 2010. I love York and York St John, and as an institution there are a lot of practice based, artistic, creative subjects here. I also really liked the people and what they were doing with the creative writing programme.
Follow your gut. Be yourself. Being true to what you're passionate about isn't without risk, but in the long run you will end up doing what you want to do.
It's a good environment to feel that your ideas are listened to, thanks in part to it being a smaller institution. I'd only been here a year and I was asked to head up and redesign the MA, which has now more than quadrupled in size. From an early stage I've had a lot of say in how the subject progressed, and there's been personal progression too which I think at a larger institution could have taken 10 years or longer. I always feel that I'm a member of a team; involved in what my subject will look like, who my potential students are and how it will be marketed.
I've had good mentors, and all in one way or the other, weren't rule followers. They've taught me to be mindful of external pressures on academia but not to take it too seriously as it can be inhibiting and bad for creativity. If you're in teaching: be inspired by your students; don't be egocentric; look outwards; be open minded and think about what you can learn from your students as well as what they can learn from you.