Learning to write better poetry - and having a drink - with Carol Ann Duffy

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Since graduating with a BA in literature in 2008, it has been my dream to complete an MA in creative writing; specifically, poetry.  I knew I needed to mature as a writer, and that happened to coincide with having no money. I was able to apply to Manchester Metropolitan University this summer, however, because a couple of years ago the government introduced student loans for a second degree.

Reader, I was accepted.  I was overjoyed, particularly as the news came at the end of freshers week, when I was wondering why I hadn’t yet received my rejection email. 

A welcome email arrived on the Thursday, from the writing school’s manager; followed by the offer email on Friday, around five pm.  I was excited and panicked at the same time: I have to apply for student finance (you certainly do!)  When do I start? (Monday?!).  Will I be allowed to attend class if my finance isn’t in place? (Yes).  Where do I go? (the old Cornerhouse).  What do I do? (not panic … oops, too late).

My first degree was with the Open University so I was excited to go to a “real” i.e. brick university but, oh, how at first I wish I hadn’t bothered.  Two weeks in and it was all YOU OWE US MONEY GIVE US MONEY YOU WILL BE SANCTIONED IF YOU DON’T PAY THE MONEY SHOW US THE MONEY. 

I understand that education is big business these days, but please, MMU, don’t invite me at the last minute so that I miss out on the helpful information; leave me to flounder; and then nag me to the death of joy.  Truthfully, at this stage I’d be happier with my notebook and pen and just the one degree, thank you very much.

From the ridiculous to the sublime: three weeks in, the course is fabulous.  It is challenging and difficult and I am surrounded by so much talent I can’t help feeling they made a mistake when they sent out the offer letter.  But you’d have to pry it from my cold, dead Gmail account first. 

You know you’ve never had it so good when one of your professors is Michael Symmons Roberts and the other is Carol Ann Duffy.  And when the poet laureate hands out free books, takes you across the road to the pub and buys you a drink and, when you ask for some advice says, “That’s what I’m here for,” you know you’ll say: “Here’s the money!  I had to sell my children to get it, but it is totally worth it!”

Excited?  Yes.  Terrified?  Yes.  Fed up with officialdom?  Always.  Would I want to be anywhere else?  What do you think?


Linda Cosgriff lives in Manchester. Her blog is called The Laughing Housewife



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Linda Cosgriff

Thu 26th Oct 2017 13:21

Thank you, everyone, for your support. It means a great deal to me.

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dorinda macdowell

Wed 25th Oct 2017 09:24

Linda, we all believe in you. You're an extremely talented and an altogether amazing lady. I'm proud to call you my friend!

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Julian (Admin)

Tue 24th Oct 2017 17:22

As Nicola says, we are all proud of you (and always were). Excellent piece too. I look forward to the next instalment.

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Nicola Hulme

Sun 22nd Oct 2017 16:01

What a fantastic piece Linda, we feel your panic, your pain and your joy as you lead us through the initial challenges of starting your course. Hang in there, we are all proud of you and know you are going to go from strength to strength.

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Nigel Astell

Fri 20th Oct 2017 18:02

Follow your dream Linda follow your dream and leave those begging letters in the recycling bin till you are well on your way!

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