Poetry Adjudication

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At the first meeting of the New Year, Jan welcomed Andy Croft who was present to give his adjudication of the Group’s 2015 Poetry Competition. After a brief summary of his own career as a published author and poet, Andy gave his reaction to each of the competition entries before announcing the winners. The trophy went to Elizabeth Spearman (who was unable to be at the meeting) for a poem entitled ‘Messenger’. Susan Perkins took second place with ‘An Avid Reader’s Advisory Villanelle’ with third place going to David McAndrew for ‘Lost’. After the refreshment break the entries were read, with time at the end of the meeting for Andy Croft to read two of his own published pieces.

Christmas Event 2015

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A very pleasant evening at The Old Deanery drew to a close with the presentation by Joe Peters of the President’s Cup, won by Susan Perkins for the second year running.

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Members and guests had enjoyed a two or three course meal interspersed with a rather less than ‘easy peasy’ quiz provided by Claire Cox and some seasonal readings. Chair Jan Maltby and Treasurer Cathy Grimmer made sure that no one went away empty handed.

The intimate lighting at the venue proved challenging once again for Admin’s modest camera equipment, but at least the gallery below will let you see most of those present. Apologies to anyone not featured. Unfortunately some images were too dark or indistinct to be worth including.

Article competition 2015

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Our adjudication saw a very welcome return visit from journalist Louise Cole, who spoke briefly about her own writing and media agency before giving a detailed critique of each entry.

The articles, all of which Louise had found interesting, spanned a wide range of subject matter and style. She stressed the importance of having a strong idea of what to write and for whom. In particular, the writer should come to the point in the first paragraph and include a powerful hook to engage the reader.

Travel pieces should not only reflect a writer’s own experiences but give insight into what else might be available for future visitors. Nostalgia was fine, but how had the area changed since? Being aware of psychic distance would obviate unfortunate juxtapositions. A heart rending description of a wartime atrocity, for example, should never be followed by ‘and then we bought hats’!

Writers of opinion pieces should include the sources for their facts and figures and avoid undermining themselves by posing questions that they were unable to answer. The main part of the article should focus on essentials, with facts that would be ‘nice to know’ confined to a side panel.

Phil Cook’s travel piece, Trieste:the least known Italian city was the winner of the Jack Moss trophy. In second place was Old Blue Eyes, a review of Frank Sinatra’s latest biography, by Peter Hicks. Sheila Whitfield’s Sweet Satisfaction, which compared today’s sugar consumption with that imposed by rationing during and following WW2, came third.

Unfortunately, once the winning entries had been read out, there was very little time for Louise to speak about her latest venture. She and two friends are now collaborating on romantic stories under the author name of Marisa Hayworth. We shall look forward to hearing more about that on her next visit!

A Workshop in York

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Members are always keen to hone their skills. Here’s Maggie flashing her teeth on the front row of a writing workshop held in York courtesy of The People’s Friend. As TPF publishes more short stories than any other UK magazine, every word from the lips of Fiction Editor Shirley Blair is to be treasured. Maggie looks forward to sharing what she learnt with the rest of RWG at the earliest opportunity.

A talk by Trevor Vaughan

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We were highly entertained by a talk from ‘retired’ man of the cloth Trevor Vaughan – are they ever really allowed to retire? – who spoke about his self-published book ‘Parson’s Pie’. Trevor began by explaining how the book’s title related to his family’s bakery business and went on to explain the importance of writing in the work of an Anglican priest. This was followed by anecdotes from his school days in Skipton and his life as an army chaplain.

A brief discussion about self-publication, ever more popular these days, followed.

A first novel and an invitation

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Everyone is invited to an afternoon/evening of celebration at Maggie’s house on Saturday, 22nd August. From five o’clock onwards, there will be food, drink, music and – inevitably – the odd reading from Shadows of the Past. Based partly on the bizarre events of a summer in France during Maggie’s teens, this novel has had a long gestation period but is (Maggie hopes) all the better for that.

Please go along if you can, even if only for half an hour or so. If you really can’t, there will be a repeat (but smaller) event in York on Saturday, 29th August, so please ask Maggie for details.

The novel is available both as a paperback and as a download and Maggie is proud to announce that The Little Ripon Bookshop has copies.

Swanwick 2015

Only Cathy and Maggie attended the Writers’ Summer School for the whole week this year, although they were delighted to see Lindsay for the final full day.

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Both were kept very busy. As well her committee duties and rehearsing the new play she’d written for ‘Swanwick Page to Stage’, Cathy starred in a very different version of Romeo and Juliet on the last night.

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Maggie ran a course on ‘filler’ writing and agreed to be an ‘ambassador’. This involved wearing a pink badge, helping to host a table for new Swanwickers (‘white badgers’) on the first evening and being a ‘go to’ person for them during the week.

Back to reality now, they’re already counting the days to Swanwick 2016 and hope that some more members of RWG will be joining them!

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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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