The response to the first issue of newleaf was very encouraging indeed. As the post was sifted through and — as conscientiously as possible — replied to, it became clear that in English departments all over the country people were doing creative writing in their second language, the language of study and work. Some, like the Fryburger team in Freiburg, are working as students without a teacher editor; some — like Séamus McClelland in Constance (Copy Rites), James Marciano in Bonn (Small Worlds) and myself — are native speaker teachers working in an advisory capacity with students at their universities. Lynn Guyver wrote from the Humboldt Uni in Berlin with a sad footnote that after five years of creative writing in her department she was having to leave because her contract was running out: what a silly waste of human potential. Apart from the actual literary quality, which was generally very high, what struck me as particularly positive about the magazines that arrived was both the sophistication of the layout and the very high standard of English of those groups working without a native speaker. Another thing was that everyone seemed interested in setting up some sort of English creative writing network in Germany. Now, there is simply nothing to be said against this idea — after all, the English theatre people already have theirs — except that I am not the person to initiate it, as some have hinted. As someone with a sixteen-hour teaching load, commitments to writing and publishing and two children and a Bundesliga club to support, there is absolutely no way that I can slip into the role. Would anyone else take up the challenge? A modest newsletter would be a good idea, and maybe in a while a get-together somewhere; please note that I avoid the word conference or symposium!

This second issue of newleaf from Bremen consists exclusively of texts written during one week of the Winter Semester of 1995/6, in a creative writing workshop run by our guest writer Vernella Fuller. In a teacher-training project entitled Growing Up, my colleague Diethelm Knauf and I had taught her novel Going Back Home (London: The Women's Press 1992) about two sisters of Jamaican origin in England whose contrasting opinions about their present home and their parents' country of birth make for convincing, stimulating and interesting reading about the nature of personal identity as a cultural concept, one of the recurring motifs of the project.

After a successful week the previous year, in which we had had the Liverpool novelist and story writer Moy McCrory over to do a week's workshop in Bremen, we had seen that the stimulus of having a writer from Britain here for our students to work with had worked wonders for the language competence, the creativity and the general study morale of the students involved. The only difficulty with the Moy McCrory week had been that we had tried to spread her too thin in the limited time available, dividing up her time and energy between students in too many different classes. So this time it made sense to concentrate our writer's energy on one group of about thirty students, most of whom were already acquainted with her work.

As well as a public reading in the city and a talk in the university on Caribbean culture in Britain, Ms Fuller went flat out in two writing sessions a day — mornings and afternoons — with two groups. She had them eating out of her hand at once and managed to get the most reticent of students expressing themselves. The key to her success — the students involved tell me — was her combination of seemingly boundless enthusiasm, her knack of packaging honest criticism in praise and her concrete suggestions for improvement. She was, as one said, not only a great writer but a perfect teacher.

On the Friday we took over the Mensa, our university refectory, and organised a reading for anyone who wanted to hear. What they heard — and more — is now in your hands: the product of a week many will not forget. In the text which closes the main section of this newleaf, Nicole de Wall writes, "Today I hope that something will remain from the creative writing workshop because I don't want to believe that this great thing has ended without any result." I hope that newleaf 2 has gone some way towards fulfilling that hope.

I have included the work of 13 students, all those who completed a text or texts which they felt they could let go of. So the quality is — predictably — varied, as are the topics, approaches and genres, although the short short story based on one or two characters predominates, as is to be expected from such an exercise. I found no common thread to comment on, except for one question. Is it part of the pervading literary Zeitgeist that an increasing number of student texts deal with physical violence related to psychological disorder, the threat under the consumer veneer of our society? It is, after all, the stuff of much post-modern fiction, from Stephen King through the Silence of the Lambs to Ian McEwan.

As with the Moy McCrory residency the previous year, the bulk of the funding was provided by the British Council, and I would like to take this opportunity to thank our friends at the Council not only for making these events possible but providing, over the years, the wherewithal for making our small, understaffed and overworked department into a major factor in the cultural life of Bremen. So thanks to Heidrun Schachtebeck-Janik in Hamburg, Mareike Brouwer in Cologne and of course to Andrew Winter and the Culture Vultures, who do the work "on the ground" (where vultures work best?) here in Bremen.

Over the years, the Council has happily provided us with writers we wanted, and so it seemed a good idea to document that co-operation with a new feature in newleaf which I hope will become permanent after newleaf 3 in the autumn of 1995 — a Guests' Corner where our writers can leave behind something more concrete than the memory of their reading or a few signed copies. newleaf 3 is in fact as good as complete; in fact, it was originally meant to become newleaf 2, but in the general term-time stress that sucked away time we felt that it would be better to give precedence to the Fuller workshop and send out these texts. So turn over a newleaf and enjoy them.

Ian Watson, Bremen, May 1995