Health researcher finds peace in poetry

Student profile

Meron Taye’s roots lie in Ethiopia, where both of her parents were born and raised. She herself was born, grew up and lives in Amsterdam and loves the city’s mixture of structure and chaos. Her connection to Amsterdam is also reflected in her work as a junior researcher and PhD student studying how to improve the health of Amsterdam’s children.

The pandemic has encouraged her to bike more, leading to a greater appreciation and interaction with the city—instead of sitting on the tram scrolling on the phone, she’s out enjoying the beauty of the architecture and ignoring the impatient bikers behind her.

A bit of an introvert, Meron loves her plants, meditation, reading and writing, and spending time on her own—when she isn’t working, exercising or on a Friday social outing with friends and family. Favorite books include And I Still Rise by Maya Angelou, Gold from the Stone (a collection of poetry) by Lemn Sissay, and Americanah by Chimamanda Adichie—her identification with the book encouraged Meron’s own writing. Currently, she is reading Maaza Mengiste’s The Shadow King. She is a valued member of the Level II crew and will be joining the Level II Poetry course this autumn.


How did you get started as a writer?

I was inspired by my father. He’s a great writer and storyteller who made up wonderful bedtime stories. As a child I thought everybody could do that! He writes in Amharic and I hope he publishes something one day, so more people can enjoy his art. Writing has always been something I just did. My earliest memory of writing something was when I was about 8 years old. It was a poem about family and I couldn’t figure out how to spell ‘family’ or make the damn thing rhyme! During college, I would often write stream of consciousness notes on my phone. I am constantly inspired by all the amazing stuff in my life—my culture, my family, my generation.


What is your favorite thing to write?

Stream of consciousness that becomes poetry by letting the poem lead. There is something freeing about writing without a clear end goal in mind, just letting go and writing without thinking.


What made you decide to sign up for your first course at the International Writers’ Collective?

I wanted to create a habit of writing, become part of a writing community and learn how to write within a certain time and subject frame. I am still struggling with the daily writing habit, but the assignments create a great structure for writing no matter what, instead of only when it’s convenient.


What’s been the most surprising thing about your writing course experience?

That it’s liberating to share. At the Collective, the first time my piece was read out loud in a class, I was so nervous I could hear my own heartbeat! Now I know that even great writers have shitty first drafts. It’s great when you receive compliments, but I am just as interested in finding out how people think I can improve something.


How does writing affect you?

There is a certain peace I feel, during and even after I write. I get a sense of accomplishment, even if I do just a few minutes of jotting down a plot or outline.


What are your plans for your writing future?

I am working on creating a collection of poems that stand alone individually while together telling a larger story. I hope to have a rough first draft done in the next year.

15 September 2020

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