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Exciting times

There I was, thinking of applying to do an MA in Creative Writing, when I realised that wasn’t quite what I wanted. Five or six years ago perhaps, it would have been right. But the more I thought about a course centred around a weekly writing workshop, the more my heart sank a little.

I began delving into the detail of my chosen course, and my second-choice too: was there enough reading and studying of other poets’ work, as well as writing? Was I really going to be immersed in poetry from a range of periods, or was the focus on contemporary? Was I going to have to take classes in novel writing, drama or other types of creative writing in which I have no interest? What was/were the experience, specialisations & interests of the tutors? What were research students working on? Was there much/any potential for crossover into the rest of the English department, or opportunity to take contextual modules?

Then I discovered an MA in Poetry and Poetics at York University. No other British university appears to offer such a thing. The more I read about it, the more I felt it was for me. Taking a part-time course at a Uni that’s 300 miles away isn’t a cheap option but it’s doable. When I was looking at Creative Writing, I did consider a distance-learning option elsewhere, but York doesn’t offer that on this particular MA, and actually when I realised that ‘distance learning’ means email and online text-based chat, without any face-to face-video seminars, I wasn’t so keen anyway.

So, the York course was the way to go, and I’m delighted to say I’ve been offered a place. I absolutely know this is going to be a real stimulus to my own writing, as well as being enjoyable in its own right. Now I’ve got a month or so to get my head around it, start organising travel/accommodation and so forth. At least I’ll have plenty of four-hour train journeys to do all that reading!

Published inBlogCourses


  1. Danielle Danielle

    Congratulations Robin! I’m sure it will be fascinating plus you can visit the Viking museum – result!

    • Robin Houghton Robin Houghton

      Ha ha! Thanks Danielle! And the cathedral, for Evensong… um… maybe

  2. Brilliant. Lots of love and luck with that! ❤️

    • Robin Houghton Robin Houghton

      Thanks so much Ann! x

  3. This sounds very exciting, Robin, and just the challenge needed, by the sound of things. Far better, from my experience, to attend the course in person rather than to do online. But please remember that the first Thursday of each month in Hastings is not to be missed!

    • Robin Houghton Robin Houghton

      Antony, you know I will do my damnedest to make Hastings Stanza! Rx

  4. Wow, that’s fantastic, Robin. Congratulations. York is a wonderful Uni, with high standards, and what a delightful city to spend time in. Green with envy!! Cx

    • Robin Houghton Robin Houghton

      Thank you Claire – yes, I don’t really know York Uni but I’m very impressed with what I’ve seen on the website. And yes, York is lovely, although I’m hoping not to spend too much time there to be honest, as I’ll want to get back to my husband!!

    • Robin Houghton Robin Houghton

      Thank you, Fokkina 🙂

  5. Heather Walker Heather Walker

    This does sound exciting. Congratulations. I hope you enjoy the degree course and find it everything you want.

    • Robin Houghton Robin Houghton

      Thank you Heather! x

  6. elly elly

    Enjoy the new program, Robin 🙂

    • Robin Houghton Robin Houghton

      Thanks Elly! x

  7. Cheryl Capaldo Traylor Cheryl Capaldo Traylor

    Good for you and congratulations, Robin! That inspires me. Best wishes on your new venture.

    • Robin Houghton Robin Houghton

      Thanks so much, Cheryl 🙂

  8. Judith Judith

    Congratulations, Robin! I hope it’s exactly what you want.

    • Robin Houghton Robin Houghton

      Many thanks Judith, I am optimistic! X

  9. Penny Penny

    Ah that’s fantastic news!
    I looked into the MA courses in places that did just poetry like Bath and Aberdeen and UEA, but then did a Professional Writing MA in the end with no poetry at all, but moving to Falmouth, joining Falmouth Poetry group and the active poetry scene there was really valuable, but of all the courses I’ve ever done the online course with York Uni – Developing the Skills of writing poetry was the best and most immersive and I’ve stayed in a feedback group with two of my course mates since! I loved it as I’m hard of hearing and worked a lot of funny shift patterns at the time so being able to feed back on other peoples work in my own time and being able to see their poems on the screen and read everyone else’s comments too I learnt so much 🙂

    • Robin Houghton Robin Houghton

      Hi Penny, great to hear your story, it sounds like you made some excellent choices, and amazing you were able to do all that whilst full-time doctoring! I’m heartened to hear you had such a positive experience of the York Uni online course. A regular feedback group can work so well if it’s long term and you have a chance to get to know each other’s work and if it feels balanced and supportive. I think perhaps the comment I made in the post about my heart sinking at the thought of a weekly workshop was really to do with my worry of what if the group doesn’t gel, and it’s such a huge part of most Creative Writing MAs. (I’ve had the odd scary experience in workshopping groups in the past, as I expect has everyone.) I also love being in a workshop group where I feel at least some members are producing better work and/or are more experienced than me. I know if I don’t feel challenged, the joy dissipates pretty quickly. All the best for your writing & take care 🙂 R x

  10. Great stuff. I do hope it’s more like what you want/need.
    I did one in Manchester some years back (2 to-be laureates teaching it) and many of us came away… indifferent?

    I’ve been searching out Distance Learning, as well. I now have ME, and find any time commitment a liability, though.

    Good luck and god speed aboard the good ship Robin H!

    • Robin Houghton Robin Houghton

      Thank you Michael, oh dear I’m sorry your experience was a bit ‘meh’ – it’s a big investment after all. I think there is a lot more choice of distance learning at the moment, with current circumstances. I see the Poetry Business are offering various things, and there are the MOOCs of course – coursera, futurelearn etc. Good luck with it 🙂

  11. It will be very interesting, Robin, to see how the ratio of writing your own work and writing critically about, e.g., the Romantics works out. It sounds a challenging and wide-ranging course (she says with a smidgen of envy!).

    • Robin Houghton Robin Houghton

      Hi Caroline, yes I’m hoping it will be complementary to poetry writing rather than distracting! To be fair, I’ve always been a commercial writer alongside writing poetry, so I’m used to getting myself into different writing modes. And one of the nice things about an MA is the freedom you have to choose what you want to write about 🙂 So I’m optimistic!

  12. Jinny Fisher Jinny Fisher

    Hooray! That looks like an excellent choice for you. I hope your group is big enough to work well, and that there are some equally advanced poets there. 🙂

    • Robin Houghton Robin Houghton

      Thank you Jinny! Although it’s not a creative writing course, so there may be no other poets in the group at all!

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