MA Writing, Poetry, class of 2015
Actor, writer and director
I began a masters in writing in 2009 as a mature student and actor. I was hoping to use the time between professional engagements to study. In fact, within the first year I found myself up in Glasgow working as a regular character in a TV series. I hadn’t seen that one coming and had already taken on the co-editorship of Matter 12, a Hallam publication of new writing. It was hard graft being actor, student and editor simultaneously but in the end it was worthwhile.
The enthusiasm I felt on the first day of the course never lessened. I have many enduring memories of fellow students and of teachers like Maurice Riordan, with his enigmatic comments on students’ poetry: ‘Ah, now, well, you could, you know, this line here, it’s, you know, you could...or not.’
Then there was Chris Jones and his relaxed encouragement over coffee in The Cutting Edge and of course Conor O’Callaghan, whose Irish wit could take the tension out of pre-submission tutorials. Once I was nervous about doing a reading alongside a couple of well known poets. Conor gave me a word of invaluable advice: ‘Win!’
The MA Writing at Hallam was exceptional at that time. It demanded a complete novel or full collection of poetry, a finished script or selection of short stories. This high standard set it apart from other courses. It was tough and demanding and I loved every minute of it. Well, almost.