Anna Greenwood at NiddFest

Anna Greenwood will be speaking at the NiddFest literary festival on 16th June about her Rural Voice collection of stories. For more information, see www.niddfest.com/programme-2018/authors-2018/

An evening with Georgia Duffy

Sheila introduced Georgia Duffy, published author and owner of the ‘Imagined Things’ bookshop in Harrogate and invited her to address the meeting. Georgia said she was a big reader as a child, but it wasn’t until she’d attempted several novels that she discovered the story she really wanted to write, which became her book ‘Futurespan’, published in 2016.

Its publication was a result of Georgia approaching a ‘hybrid’ company called ‘Britain’s Next Bestseller’. She successfully pitched her book to them, and it was promoted on their website. She then faced the challenge of raising more than 250 pre-orders before they would publish her book, which she did. Other forms of ‘crowdfunding’ were available to would-be authors, but she felt it was still quite an alien concept in the publishing world.

Although she’d considered doing a degree in English, she thought it might be more useful career-wise to pursue her scientific strengths, so she qualified as a radiologist. After six years she considered a career change to cater for her more creative interests, and the idea of running a bookshop came up. After a lot of research, and the help and support of her fiancé and family, she located suitable premises in the Westminster Arcade in Harrogate, decorated and stocked it, and then opened ‘Imagined Things’ in July 2017. (She named the shop after a Neil Gaiman quote about ‘the importance of imagined things’, because of her particular interest in fantasy fiction.)

Georgia talked candidly about the day-to-day business of running a bookshop – certainly not the dream job people sometimes thought it was. She mentioned the difficulties of compiling booklists, dealing with damaged goods and next-day ordering systems, as well as the need to keep abreast of what is being published while assessing what her customers might want to buy. Fortunately she has been able to rely on the support of other independent booksellers, and continues to work hard to establish her shop.

After the coffee break Georgia answered questions. A vote of thanks was proposed by Susan and members showed their appreciation in the usual way.

Artistic Licence competition 2018

Our adjudicator this time was Canon Lisle Ryder, to whom we were very grateful for taking on the task at relatively short notice. He admitted to having failed O level English Literature but had been inspired to write poetry after a Poetry Retreat at Rydal Hall. Lisle’s other interests include enjoyment of art and paintings.

After sketching in his background and its relevance to the adjudication Lisle moved on to the ten stories entered in the competition. He said that he had enjoyed reading them several times each, looking to be entertained, intrigued, moved and drawn to sympathise. Stressing the need to avoid the inclusion of unnecessary information in a very short story, he added that he found descriptive passages helpful to his imagination. In reading the stories for a second or third time Lisle was looking at:
• choice of title
• impact of the opening passage
• structure of the story and its development
• paragraphing and sentence structure
• spatial and time settings
• what stimulated his imagination – metaphors – symbolism
• the overall integrity of the piece
• the existence of a message or meaning for the reader
• whether or not the ending resolves or leaves issue for the reader to ponder

Lisle then gave his individual comments on the stories before announcing his choice of winners which was:
Third – Cathy Grimmer with ‘The Head’.
This was a story about an artist so inspired by her mother’s letter that she unwittingly sculpts her father’s face as she would have wished him to be.

First equal – Phil Cook with ‘Three Sides to Every Story’ and Anna Greenwood with ‘Loss of Privacy’

In Anna’s absence Lisle was photographed presenting the trophy to Phil, whose story was a tale of revenge told from three points of view. A woman slighted by a fellow member of an Am Dram group writes a scathing review for the local paper of its next production.

After the break Sheila invited Lisle to read from his published collection ‘Momentoes’:

President David McAndrew gave a vote of thanks for the adjudication and presented Lisle with a ‘Thank You’ envelope plus a copy of our group anthology ‘Pieces of Cake’.

Now available to purchase!

The long anticipated anthology of members’ work is now available to purchase for the modest sum of £6.50. Please apply to the Secretary for copies.

Poetry trophy presented at last!

Susan received the trophy from Sheila last night. Scroll down for full details of the Poetry Competition adjudication.

Presentation of the President’s Cup

The President’s Cup is awarded annually to the member who has accrued the most points in our internal competitions.

The recipient this year was Maggie Cobbett. In the absence of the President, Chairman Sheila Whitfield made the presentation.

Poetry Competition Adjudication

Sheila introduced Dr Nasser Hussain and invited him to give his adjudication of the 2017 Poetry Competition. Nasser began by talking about his own work, producing copies of his first published poetry collection and reading samples therefrom. His second collection is to be published in 2018. These later poems have moved on from his first collection as he has become more interested in the process of writing rather than the finished product. In his latest pieces of work he is testing what can be done by twisting language to do things it doesn’t normally do. He is asking himself, ‘Can I communicate in a new way?’

After talking about his work Nasser turned to the competition entries. His intention as an adjudicator, he said, was to help rather than to appear harsh; his critique is the beginning of a discussion rather than the last word. He had looked at the poems with five criteria in mind:
 use of language
 impact
 focus
 form
 strength of concept

As he talked about specific poems he made the following general points.
• Avoid sentences of a single word
• The subject matter has to work literally as well as figuratively.
• Allow your reader’s imagination some freedom by being slightly ambiguous
• Plain/direct/clear speech is preferable to ‘fancy’
• Beware of using clichés or easy images
• Use contemporary language and forms for contemporary subjects (‘the writer must speak to their moment)
• Might the writer need to pay more attention to form?
• Is that form appropriate to the poem?
• It is good to create a disjunct between reality and imagination/fantasy
• Does the page need to be filled? Shortness, simplicity and truth can be just as effective. Don’t be afraid to cut.
• It is important to be aware of the audience when writing pieces ‘to’ people
• Is the concept suitable for poetry?

Having commented on the individual poems Nasser announced the winners as follows:
• 3rd place – Ian Gouge with ‘The Light of our Lives’, a poem about a fragment from outer space that had once glowed to light up the lives of the couple who had found it but had now lost its glow
• 2nd Place – Elizabeth Spearman with ‘Summer Visitor’, a poem about a summer visitor arriving in her garden
• 1st Place – Susan Perkins with ‘Gerunds’, a poetic reflection on communication.

Due to an oversight the trophy was not available for presentation, but Nasser was photographed congratulating Susan on her win. The winning entries were then read. Susan prefaced her reading with an explanation of how the poem came to be written. In Elizabeth’s absence, Nasser read on her behalf.

Susan thanked Nasser for his adjudication.

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Our friendly group meets once a fortnight in the Old Deanery on Minstergate, opposite Ripon Cathedral and is always open to new members from the Ripon area and beyond. Whether your interest is in poetry or prose, novels, short stories, plays, wacky humour, a more analytical style of writing, or just listening for the time being, you're very welcome.

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