On 15th August, poet, Roz Goddard, came to give feedback and announce the winners of our poetry competition. She said the first element in poetry should be the heart rather than the head and gave her comprehensive judging criteria, including the creation of lines and phrases that ‘caught' her, the poem’s effectiveness when read aloud, its look on the page and the skills of ‘poetic handicraft’ that it demonstrated. In first place was 'The Father's Tale' by Vicky Armstrong, praised for its excellent use of the Icarus myth, its skilful layout and its 'heartbreaking' effect. 'The Bryn' by Diana Lock was second, Jane Hempson-Jones' 'Peace' was third, and 'Haiku on Kuniyoshi' by Roz Balp was fourth. Roz Goddard commented on the effective use of imagery and the adoption of rhyme schemes which might either enhance or ‘hem the poem in'. In the question and answer session, she advised: ‘letting the words flow’, writing a first draft in prose and allowing the structure to emerge as well as reading lots of contemporary poetry through magazines like Rialto or Under the Radar. She encouraged the non-winners by saying that all judgements are ‘subjective and tell us much about the judge and her reading and experience.’
Friday, 5 August 2016
On 1st August, we were privileged to welcome our speaker, Ann Kramer, who gave an invaluable and inspiring workshop on writing historical non-fiction to prepare us for the group's final competition of the year. She has a long career as a professional author and has written 60 books on history for both adults and children, as well as many articles. Ann managed to condense her considerable experience into some very clear advice on how to go about approaching the task.. She responded with ease to questions from the floor, outlining a clear procedure for planning, finding an original angle as well as giving a very thorough guide on how to tackle the thorny problem of research, giving useful tips on how to find and use a variety of sources. Finally, she gave us two practical activities to get us started, which propelled us from vague ideas to a definite starting point. Throughout the evening, Ann was positive and encouraging, so we all feel more confident about taking the first step on this unfamiliar path.
Tuesday, 19 July 2016
On 18th July, we read out our entries for our fourth competition of the year: poetry, beautifully and aptly summed up in this little ditty by our Treasurer, Sam Davey:
In a room of budding poets,Words are flowing – don’t you know it.
Sonnets, ballads and some haiku,
Laments, couplets to name a few,
Erotic missiles and dying drummer,
Silent Angus – what a bummer,
Grains of sand and introspection,
Beach huts ready for inspection,
Songs of sadness, songs of magic,
Global madness, personal, tragic –
In a room of poetry,
Weaving words beside the sea.
The group also agreed to accept Rosemary Bartholomew's proposal to produce a children's anthology as part of our celebration of the group's 70-year existence.
Sunday, 10 July 2016
On 4th July, we were delighted to welcome our judge, Sally Holloway, to give her verdict on our Comedy Writing entries. She told us about her work as a stand-up comedienne, joke writer and author of the best seller, 'The Serious Guide To Joke Writing'. She shared her own writing process, advocating humour and a lightness of touch as they make books more saleable. Sally then gave detailed and constructive feedback on each story before announcing the winners.
In first place was the beautifully plotted and played out black comedy, 'Stuff and Nonesense' by Liz Caluori. Vicky Armstrong was second with 'Maurice and Dora Learn Swahili', praised for its gentle, lilting comedy. 'The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come' by Amanda Giles was third, and Godfrey Forder's 'Paper Hanging Hero' was fourth. Sally was generous enough to round off the evening with a rendition of two of her own humorous songs.
Sunday, 26 June 2016
On 20th June, Leslie Tate and Sue Hampton visited to give an interactive presentation on the modern novel as part of their popular Purple Book Tour. They covered such topics as voice and stylistic differences, point of view and current writing styles, with reference to their own work. It was a stimulating evening with an often original and contentious slant and gave us all food for thought.
On 6th June, members met to read out their entries for our third competition of the year: humour. We all know that comedy is really, really hard to write and we all agreed that it was verging on impossible to be funny to order. Despite that, there was the usual impressive variety of work, ranging from the dark, through the satirical to the gentler and just plain silly. At any rate, we had a bit of a giggle, and we look forward to our judge, Sally Holloway's feedback.
Tuesday, 31 May 2016
At our Story Scavenger evening on 23 May, our Vice-Chair, best-selling author, Kate O'Hearn, led a fun workshop, which challenged both our brains and our writing skills. She gave a very clear scenario: a complete short story featuring at least four characters taking part in a couples' weekend at “The Royal Muskoka Hotel” on a Northern Scottish island in late October with the opening line: “The weather turned as the small ferry arrived at the island dock.” We also had to incorporate a list of objects into the action: a long, leather whip, a green goblet, a plastic pumpkin lantern, a pink Hawaiian baseball cap, two feathers, a toy monkey, a 2009 calendar, a drill, a skipping rope and a mobile phone (though phones weren't allowed on the weekend). In the last 30 minutes, some brave members read out their attempts, often to hoots of laughter, particularly at the use of the objects, which was at times ingenious and at others verging on surreal.