Breton Dukes (Writing for the Page, 2009)

It's a serious course. It's like paint stripper.

Breton writes: 'When Bill retired I wanted to send him an email. I'd thank him for writing the poem that was read at my wedding. I'd wish him well in his future life. Mostly I'd thank him for the course. Bill spoke to me twice in 2009. A few days after a reading at Te Papa he said he liked my story. The sensation was glorious. Later he commended my beard. Also glorious.

'After a night to celebrate our grading, I bailed Damien and his wife up in Mighty Mighty. For the second or third time I gushed. "Thank you, thank you, thank you."

'The course changed my life. It taught me about books and about the craft of writing. I learnt discipline. I learnt to finish something and then start again and then finish it again. I learnt to critique other writers' work and to ingest criticism, to work it through and wield it. In Damien, I was taught by a truly magnificent teacher. I met people with astonishing intelligence. I made friends. It's a serious course. It's like paint stripper.'

Bio: Breton Dukes lives with his wife and son in Kaikorai Valley, Dunedin. He works for the government. His interests include rabbit shooting, tenting and cookery. His first book, Bird North and other stories, was published by Victoria University Press in 2011. His second book, Empty Bones and other stories (VUP) was published in 2014. He is currently working on a novel. In 2016 Breton was awarded a Grimshaw Sargeson Fellowship, to spend four months at the Sargeson Centre in Auckland.

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