Literary criticism, poetic exploration and Grand Theft Auto: Guest lecture with Calum Rodger

26 March 2021
Calum Rodger
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Poet, scholar and game developer Calum Rodger has delivered an eye-opening guest lecture to English and Creative Writing students. The Glasgow-based artist spans industry boundaries with his work, which Calum describes as bringing together “tradition, experiment and contemporary experience through collaboration and connection”. 

Having dovetailed between the worlds of poetry and gaming since his graduation from Glasgow University in 2007, Calum has carved out an intriguing career pathway. He is just as likely to be found creating works such as Rock, Star, North., a poetic travelogue through the game-world of Grand Theft Auto V, as he is writing literary criticism on avant-garde modern and postmodern poetry.

Calum is also a ‘game poet'. He creates stripped down role-playing games based off lines of famous poetry that will be instantly recognisable to fans of Pokémon. His latest game Rabbie Burns Saves the World! was developed for the Scottish Book Trust. It enables players to take control of some of Scotland’s finest writers (starring Scottish literary greats Burns, Spark, Stevenson, Morgan, Shepherd and Kay) and lead them in a quest to save the world.

Course leader and lecturer Dr Sherezade Garcia has previously stated that she wants to show her students that they can take creative writing “wherever they want”. This is a mantra that Calum has personified throughout his career. But how can students with similarly ambitious career goals make their vision a reality? 

“Having a very specific goal really helped me overcome my own shortcomings”, reflects Calum. “I don’t have a lot of patience for learning code,but having a clear vision of what I want from the software I’m using really helps me develop my games.”

The clarity that Calum works with has recently helped him create sha-lot, a new game poem for Scotland’s International poetry festival StAnza. The game is a self-defined ludic interpretation of a sentence from Veronica Forrest-Thomson's Poetic Artifice: A Theory of Twentieth Century Poetry

If you’re a Falmouth student, you can watch a recording of Calum’s lecture here.

 

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