Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Meeting Report: 20th February 2012

At our 20th February meeting we were pleased to welcome award-winning poet Kim Lasky as judge for our open theme poetry competition. Kim also teaches creative writing at Sussex University and elsewhere. Her poems have appeared in the UK and the US. She won the 2011 Agenda Poetry Competition, and is currently writing a collection of poems inspired by things as varied as Glenn Miller’s In The Mood and the Theory of Relativity!

Before announcing the results, Kim outlined the two main components in a poem – subject matter and form – and how they can be used with different elements, such as language/vocabulary etc to create a sense of atmosphere and voice which reaches out to the reader. What she particularly looks for in poetry are poems to either make you think differently or want to find out more. She gave detailed and invaluable feedback on each entry before announcing the results.

The winner was Chairperson Jill Fricker for ‘Twin Towers’. She was congratulated on achieving an incredibly moving and powerful poem without being sentimental that got the reader thinking; she was also praised for effective use of a direct voice. In 2nd place was new member Eileen Masters for ‘The Call to Prayer’, described as deceptively simple and concise, yet being mature and subtle, conjuring the atmosphere of a specific culture and way of life. Ezzie Gleeson-Ward was awarded 3rd place for ‘Drive Time’ a very self-contained poem written in sonnet form but used in a contemporary way, with interesting imagery. 4th was Mark Towner for ‘Igbo’ – an ambitious and moving poem with really striking images, about suffering of the Igbo people, from whom the writer comes.

For more poetry we are hosting a Saturday half-day seminar ‘Poetry Today’ on 28th April with poet Leslie Tate, who will be looking at the work of eight contemporary poets. This is open to anyone: places £7 or £5 students. Enquiries to hastingswritersgroup@gmail.com

Friday, 17 February 2012

Meeting Report: 6th February 2012

Despite the Siberian weather conditions, seven hardy souls gathered for the first of the year’s manuscript evenings. The group decided that Mike Walsh’s reading of his winning Catherine Cookson Cup short story should be put back until there was a larger audience to hear it. Two of the planned manuscript readers were marooned by snow and ice, so Eileen Masters and Jill Fricker brought extracts from current writing instead.

First to read was Ezzie Gleeson-Ward, from the last chapter of her novel, ‘Cormorante’, a Sci-fi fantasy. In the excerpt, the heroine faces up to an evil being who embodies a whole race of ‘fire elementals’. Some great descriptive writing took us into this strange and enchanted world that Ezzie has created.

Eileen has started to write a fascinating memoir of her eventful time as an aid worker in Afghanistan. Any thoughts of moaning about a little discomfort from the weather in wintry Hastings were blown clean away after we heard about Eileen’s first-hand encounters with the Taliban, as she unwittingly travelled into Kabul during one of the worst periods of civil war and bombardment in 1992. We were gripped!

Jill finished the evening with an excerpt from a short story, ‘Blue Genes Day’, which has been through a few revisions since she entered it in the Catherine Cookson competition last year. Set in parts of Hackney and Islington, the story deals with the longing of a young man to discover who his father was – in the extract, an overheard conversation sends him jumping to the wrong conclusion…

Possibly no happy endings in sight, but a very useful and enjoyable evening, which gave opportunities for in-depth feedback and reflection on the work presented.

For more information about our group please visit www.hastingswriters.co.uk or email Amanda Giles, our Membership Secretary, at membership.hwg@gmail.com