MA Creative Writing and Publishing 2016 - 2018

Garry Brooking

Writer and Actor

Talk us through your career path since graduating

Shortly after graduating I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease and am presently living in a care home. The course has enabled me to use this time in collaborating with Peter Howe, a fellow alumnus of the MA Creative Writing & Publishing course, and the writer Tony Nicholson, an old friend, to self-publish a collection of poetry. With poems written over a period of fifty years, it is a kind of poetic memoir. It is called Love Moves and is available from Amazon.

Did you have a different career before coming to West Dean? If so why did you change career paths?

I became interested in poetry at Teacher Training College in Chelsea in the late sixties, taught by the poets Tom Blackburn and John Heath-Stubbs, and attending readings by the Liverpool poets—Roger McGough, Brian Patten, Adrian Henri—in rooms above pubs, and by the poet Danny Abse at his house.

I then became an actor who worked mainly in community, children’s and young people’s theatre. I was part of the Stirabout Theatre Company going into prisons with comedy revues, and ten years with Ed Berman’s Inter-Action Trust, in London, which included Professor Dogg’s Troupe, the Flying Farmyard, and much more!

I created the ‘community cameo’ role of Capt. Cook which I toured to schools, science conferences and naval events throughout the UK and in Australia. I followed this with the role of Edward Jenner, pioneer of the world’s first vaccine (for smallpox). Later, I taught drama at Stourbridge College, writing and directing productions with students with learning disabilities. On retirement, I was able to fulfil the long-held ambition to write a novel by coming to West Dean.

What's your favourite memory from your time at the College?

I particularly enjoyed sharing the company of fellow writers, as well as those from other disciplines: craftspeople, artists, conservators. Some of their knowledge went towards creating the world of my romantic novel, Her Winterbourne Man, which is set in a country house based on West Dean, with its winterbourne, its grounds and the surrounding countryside. College tutors and visiting novelists were always supportive and positive, as well as covering essential aspects of writing. This was encouraging and ultimately helped me to fulfil my dream.

Garry Brooking as Captain Cook (left), alongside Ed Berman (centre) and Roger McGough (right)
Garry Brooking in his role as an actor (left), alongside entreupeneur Ed Berman (centre) and poet Roger McGough (right)
LOVE MOVES by Garry Brooking, collected poems from 1966-2016
LOVE MOVES by Garry Brooking, collected poems from 1966-2016