Louise Wallace (Writing for the Page, 2008)
The MA year managed to highlight the interesting and unique things about our individual work and voice, that we could then refine and learn how to harness.
Louise writes: 'Before starting the MA, I hadn’t thought about the fact that everyone would be coming to it for different reasons, at different stages, wanting different things. Some of my classmates set out in one genre and finished in another, some were looking to find their writing voice. I came to the year already feeling as though I knew what my writing voice sounded like (though of course there was more distillation to be done), but I didn’t know how to go about putting a collection of poems together and that was what I was hoping to learn.
'A lot of the time Bill just sat back, putting the questions back on to us as students. As we felt our way through the year – reading, sharing, sending out our work and hoping for some kind responses – we all started figuring out the answers to our questions ourselves, which is of course what Bill was after.
'I remember bringing in a particular poem for feedback from the class, and there was just this feeling from my classmates, like yes, this is what you should be doing. Bill had a bit of a twinkle in his eye as well. And this sort of epiphany moment happened for many of us – during the year, we found our way. Through the abundance of time and a focus on our writing, the MA year managed to highlight what the interesting and unique things were about our individual work and voice, that we could then refine and learn how to harness.
'There were so many other highlights to the year that have continued to enrich my writing life. We had a wonderful masterclass session from Patricia Grace who shared her experiences and advice. Jenny Bornholdt was my supervisor, which turned into a mentorship and friendship beyond any expectations I could have had. I made friends that I continue to work with, create new projects with and receive feedback from. The folio I put together during that year, was a manuscript six months later, which I sent to Fergus at Te Herenga Waka University Press, and five months after that it was a book.'
Louise Wallace is the author of two collections of poetry published through Te Herenga Waka University Press, with a third due for release in August 2017. She was the Robert Burns Fellow for 2015 at the University of Otago, Dunedin, and is the founder and editor of Starling, an online journal for New Zealand writers under 25 years of age.