Mike Kilpatrick is a scientist cum journalist who has dreamed about writing a book for far longer than he has spent writing one. Deborah Shepard’s Memoir Master Class at the Michael King Writers’ Centre was the spark for his Frankenstein’s monster.
I can see him now, sitting on his chair, quietly, humbly. He is wearing a shirt and tie, a pressed pair of trousers and brown brogues. His glasses sit on his nose, there for the crossword puzzle and the glances at the television. Invariably he has his pipe. The smell of burning tobacco still fills me with nostalgia.
Katherine likes to write with a writing group that formed following the Introduction to Memoir Writing Course at the Michael King Writer’s Centre in 2014. Now, at the conclusion of the 2016 Master Classes in Memoir, she feels she has learned how to distil a myriad of abstract emotions and memories into carefully chosen words and heartfelt stories. Her childhood dream of being a writer is becoming a reality.
Growing up I had many ambitions. University and marriage I had already ticked off, but motherhood was my Everest.
My pregnancy had been planned down to the minutest detail, putting into practise all I had read about looking after myself and my growing baby. I chose to have a homebirth to give my newborn the most loving welcome. It was a 27-hour marathon, but my gorgeous girl was worth every minute.
Natalie is finding her voice, self-expression in writing thanks to Deborah Shepard’s Master Class in Memoir held at the Michael King Writers’ Centre, a serene setting on the hillside of Takarunga Mt Victoria in Devonport.
Again I’m mediating my parent’s mudslinging fights, in hindsight. I should have left them to kill each other. No boundaries, no space to breathe, walking on egg shells. Distraught I used to vomit bile. I never spew now, it’s too loathsome.
Jackie belongs to a writing group formed after Deborah’s Life Writing course in 2015 and has just completed her Master Class at the Michael King Writers’ centre. This course has enabled her to extend her skills, identify themes and set her on a path to completing her memoir. It has also shown that there is still so much to write about and that the story of her life is more complex than first imagined.
A few months ago, as I was looking through an old biscuit tin of photos, I found a tiny yellowed photograph of my mother taken in about 1921. I’d never seen it before. My mother looks to be about one year old and is sitting on her Great Grandmother, Granny Wolfe’s knee. There are four people in this photo. Nana Westrupp, my mother’s grandmother is beside Great Granny Wolfe. My mother’s Mum, Nana Reed is sitting in front.
Mary migrated to New Zealand as a child. Using the skills taught by Deborah Shepard at The Michael King Writers Centre, Mary is retracing connections to the past through memoir, to capture the continuum of values and choices across generations and the journeys we have made, told through family stories.
The Victorians built their schools with very high windows, too high for any child to see the world outside. I was going to be five at the end of term, so now I had to go to school.
“What’s past is prologue.” William Shakespeare. Elizabeth finds her family history fascinating. Having retired, she now wants to write a memoir of her past, as she remembers it for her children and grandchildren.
We would help in the cowshed, and play endlessly with Tip, the dog. Staying on my uncle’s farm on the West Coast of the South Island, New Zealand was an education for two city kids.
George had been granted land as a returned serviceman after six years away from New Zealand during WW2. There were about forty cows on his farm, running down to the beach at Paroa beside the railway line. It was a summer of adventure.
Jean Rockel has emerged from her long academic career in early childhood education at the University of Auckland with a desire to learn about writing memoir and the short-story genre. She feels she is now on her way as a result of inspiration from the Master Classes in Memoir at the Michael King Writers’ Centre.
My mother, Jean, was the youngest in a family of eleven children and I was named Jean Valentine after her and a distant Scottish relative who had been isolated in her croft for several days after her husband had been killed. Something in the pathos of this extraordinary situation had touched my mother and she had the name Valentine added to her own name.
Colleen is a retired psychotherapist enjoying having time to spend with her four grandchildren. Making time to write is now important because memoir writing is a way of passing information on to future generations. The Master Class sessions in the supportive environment of the Michael King Writers Centre have been helpful in motivating and encouraging this pursuit.
We were travelling home on the tram, me from school and Mum from work, when we saw the chaos and heard the noise as the tram slowly ground to a halt in Dominion Road. Then we smelled it and saw the smoke billowing. As we drew closer we saw the flames and the firemen with giant hoses trained on them, trying desperately to extinguish the fire. It was our home, with fire engines all around it. Well, in truth, it was a boarding house where we had a room and kitchenette with an alcove for the bed and a shared bathroom. But, at that moment, it felt like the most precious place in the world and we had to scramble to get to our stuff.
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