Helen Heath (Writing for the Page, 2009)

It was an intense but wonderful period of my life - this MA experience - that gave me the base material for an award-winning book...

Helen writes: 'When I first got the call from Katie with the offer of a place in the MA course I was home alone. I hung up the phone with my heart beating, then suddenly wondered if I had just imagined the conversation because I had wanted it so much. There was no one to bear witness, to reassure me I wasn't going mad. An agonising week passed before written confirmation of both my acceptance and sanity came. Of course the sanity departed again during the nine months of MA study and writing. It was an intense but wonderful period of my life.

'I had high expectations for what I wanted to accomplish during the year. In hindsight they may have been too high, considering I had two young children and next-to-no childcare, however that intense period gave me the base material for an award-winning book. The following six months spent editing that material was lonely but fruitful. It was then that I realised the MA experience had given me the tools to go forward alone, that although the support of peers and mentors was wonderful I was ready to be set free, to trust myself. You may laugh, noticing that I've come back to do my PhD (I do!) but it's true.'

Bio: Helen Heath's debut collection of poetry Graft was published by Victoria University Press in 2012 to critical acclaim. Graft won the NZSA Jessie Mackay Best First Book for Poetry award in 2013 and was the first book of fiction or poetry to be shortlisted for the Royal Society of NZ Science Book Prize, also in 2013. Her poetry and essays have been published in many journals in New Zealand and abroad, including Best New Zealand Poems. She is currently working towards her PhD in Creative Writing at the IIML. Helen's PhD research project explores how science is represented in the work of three contemporary UK poets writing at the turn of the millennium.

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