Postgraduate Lives: Gol McAdam, 64, is doing a creative writing MA at Manchester Metropolitan University

'I kept on scribbling'

When I applied to do a Masters in creative writing I took the risk that I might be seen as an old crank, and although I didn't have the stipulated entrance requirements I pulled together a portfolio of my poetry and sent it off. The next thing I knew, I was being interviewed by the director of the writing school who, to my amazement, liked my work. Now here I am doing what I've always wanted - writing poetry and getting into print.

My working life was spent teaching subjects such as psychology and women's studies in further and higher education. So I didn't have a literature background, although I did a literature A-level at the age of 25 because I needed an A-level for my first degree in behavioural sciences. I enjoyed it but I wanted a decent job, and literature seemed a bit airy-fairy.

Then in 2004, shortly after my partner had a stroke and I gave up work to look after him, I returned to visit a convent where I had spent time as a girl. For some reason I came away writing poetry. The first poem was about my mother: the words just suddenly started coming. I didn't show it to anyone but I was hooked and kept on scribbling. But I wasn't getting any feedback and I didn't want to be sitting there writing in the dark just for myself.

I discovered the course via the internet and the fact it's available online suited me because of my domestic commitments. Every Monday evening students and tutors meet in the chatroom for a seminar. It felt a little strange at first but you quickly get to know each other, and there are one-to-one tutorials as well.

So far we've been introduced to a range of 20th-century poets - one of my favourites is Sylvia Plath. In the second module we submitted our own work for appraisal. Feedback is important. The poem I wrote about my mother is now in print in the arts magazine Aesthetica. I've just had my first acceptance in the US. Soon I will be doing my first public reading at Manchester Central Library.

caitlind1@aol.com

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