Michael often thinks about how terrified and intimidated he was before starting the Associate Degree. In his first year all day before class he’d have ‘this fear in my guts’. If it wasn’t for PWE forcing him to front up, write, read in front of other people, get feedback and then pushing him to try to publish, he says he would never have published anything.
David Astle really pushed him along and he was the one Michael was most terrified of. David also helped and encouraged Michael the most. Also, Sian Prior, Penny Johnson and Stephanie Holt. Hearing about what other students were writing, and talking about this with each other made for a collegiality that was really inspiring. Even past students, like Melissa Cranenbugh, who was at The Big Issue, where a lot of Michael’s early articles were published. That broader network within the Associate Degree allowed relationships to build.
For Michael, it was a big thing to realise he had the capability – that he was in the mix with the other students. Not embarrassing himself. Before starting PWE he’d never written anything except for entertaining emails while travelling … Then his first published feature came out of an assignment. It was a profile of Kon Karapanagiotidis from the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre and Refugee Week was coming up so he pitched it to The Age. It was exactly what the editor needed.
Michael has a memory of walking outside that morning, thinking, ‘Everyone on the street knows now I’ve published this op. ed.’ Of course, no one knew, he reflects, but it was still so exciting.
What Michael really loved – and needed – from the course was how applied it was. ‘We were directed towards producing work that would be published. It was ambitious. I was looking at the best kinds of writing and dreaming of being able to do that.’
Find out more about Michael at michaelbgreen.com.au.
This profile was written and researched by Ann Bolch from A Story To Tell.