Morgan Bach (Writing for the Page, 2013)

The MA was hard work, but the kind you want to spend all your waking hours doing. if I could go back and do it again I wouldn't hesitate for a millisecond.

Morgan Bach. (Photo credit: Ebony Lamb)

Morgan writes: 'When I actually found the guts to apply for IIML's MA programme the decision came in a flash. I was sitting at my desk at work, enduring an afternoon of extreme boredom and I opened a new message screen in my email, wrote a poem seemingly out of nowhere and emailed it to myself. It was a week before the application deadline. I confided in one friend that I was applying, locked myself in like a hermit for a week and pulled together my application from ten years of scratchings and notes. To be honest I'd barely written a thing for ten years, since I'd done some undergrad courses at the IIML. I wanted so badly to write again but I needed the external pressure, and as it turns out, the support of a group of amazing people, sitting in that room perched on the hill, cheering me on and digging into the words with me. There is something so transporting about being in that room with a group of people focussed on writing and reading – it's a better version of reality. It's not often you get to talk about poetry with other people (without them looking uncomfortable and trying to excuse themselves), let alone with a whole room of people who care as much as you do! Every minute of this time is gold, even when it gets uncomfortable. It's so valuable that those of us still in Wellington have kept meeting up monthly to workshop.

'I can genuinely say doing the MA was the most fun I've had in one year. It was hard work, but the kind you want to spend all your waking hours doing. There were ups and downs of course and patches where I thought I'd just not be able to do it, but now that I'm a year on from handing in, if I could go back and do it again I wouldn't hesitate for a millisecond.

'I couldn't have written a full manuscript in that short a time without doing the MA and without the support and camaraderie of my classmates, plus the expert guidance and encouragement from Chris Price. In truth I'm not sure I'd ever have gotten back to writing again without these things. The MA is much more than a qualification, it's like taking a course in yourself — you come out the other side and everything under the surface has changed or clarified somehow, or so I felt.

'I am so tempted to apply for the PhD.'

Bio: Morgan Bach is from Te Whanganui-a-Tara. She undertook the MA in Creative Writing in 2013 and was the recipient of the Biggs Family Prize in Poetry for her poetry manuscript. The resulting book, Some of us eat the seedswas published by Te Herenga Waka University Press (THWUP) in July 2015. She was a founding a co-editor of the online journal Sweet Mammalian, along with two other IIML graduates, Hannah Mettner and Sugar Magnolia Wilson. They launched the inaugural issue in October 2014. From August 2015 to November 2020 Morgan lived in the UK, and is happy to be back in Aotearoa. She had the privilege of judging the National Schools Poetry Award in 2023. Her second book, Middle Youth, was published by THWUP in August 2023.

Read more: