Newsflash! Meetings suspended until further notice

With great reluctance, we have decided to hold no more meetings until the crisis caused by the coronavirus is over.

HOWEVER, we plan to keep the creative juices flowing through group email exchanges of ideas and pieces of creative writing!

900 meetings and counting!

Although it was a shame that so many members, including Daphne Peters who founded the Group, were unable to attend this evening, those of us who made it marked the occasion with a heartfelt toast.

The theme for the meeting was ‘vision’, with an eye (sorry!) to the Swanwick competitions mentioned at the previous meeting. It would be wonderful if RWG came up with another winner!

PS As no one was available to take a photo of us all together, Christine and Maggie took it in turns.

An inspirational talk

Maggie invited Cathy Grimmer, a former member of the Group and now Chairman of Swanwick Writers’ Summer School, to talk about what it has to offer. After outlining the story of her own involvement since her first visit in 2010, Cathy described the history of ‘Swanwick’. She said that it was the oldest writers’ summer school in the country, having first convened in 1949. It is still held at the same venue, The Hayes Conference Centre just outside Swanwick in Derbyshire, but facilities today are far from the spartan conditions accepted by participants in the first event.

Cathy went on to talk about the format and costs of the 2020 School, both the ‘technical’ offerings – lectures, workshops and courses – and the other more social activities. In talking about the School’s competitions (closing date 30th April, theme ‘Vision’) she mentioned that entry numbers were often quite small, which gives a good chance of winning. Maggie endorsed this by reminding everyone that she, Cathy and Lindsay have all won free places in the past. Overall the organisers have tried to keep things up to date, widening the range of writing covered and trying to make things more equal among delegates, regardless of age or experience.

Maggie, already signed up for her 15th consecutive attendance, added some comments of her own and then both she and Cathy responded to questions.

NB
The meeting on 3rd March will have the theme ‘Vision’, pieces written for which may inspire entries for this year’s ‘Swanwick’ competitions!

Lunch at the Royal Oak

The Royal Oak on Kirkgate was a very welcoming venue for our first social event of 2020. Members and guests enjoyed a very convivial lunch and plenty of good conversation.

Poetry adjudication with Sue Hardy-Dawson

Maggie welcomed Sue Hardy-Dawson and invited her to give her adjudication of the 2019 Poetry Competition. Sue began by bringing members up to date on her own work, about which she had spoken on previous visits. She went on to read five poems from her new collection ‘If I were Other than Myself’ which was due to be published on 27th February 2020. These were ‘Legends of Bears’, ‘Casting Stones’, ‘Dolphin Dreaming’, ‘Found Poem’ and ‘Nightlight’. A discussion of Sue’s work then followed and she talked about her methods, emphasising the need to read poetry if one was to write it. She also said that she writes and writes before deciding what it will become – there is a lot of work between first draft and finished product.

In introducing the adjudication itself, Sue mentioned two general things which she considered worth thinking about:
• Do we need capital letters at the beginning of lines anymore?
• The avoidance of clichés unless they have a specific purpose or reason.

She then went on to give her individual comments on all the entries before announcing the result as follows:
• 3rd place – Kate Swann with ‘Saturday Night, Sunday Morning’
• 2nd place – Lindsay Trenholme with ‘New Mind Meditation’
• 1st place – Sheila Whitfield with ‘Sea Town by Night’

The winners read their poems as the results were announced and Sue presented Sheila with the trophy.

President’s Cup 2019

The President’s Cup being temporarily unavailable, Peter presented Sheila – the clear winner – with the next best thing. Watch this space for an update!

Members also enjoyed Christmas readings, a quiz, a dip into the Secret Santa basket and some delicious cake (thank you, Ella) to go with their teas and coffees.

MERRY CHRISTMAS AND A HAPPY NEW YEAR TO EVERYONE!

PS Sheila did receive the actual President’s Cup from Peter at the earliest opportunity.

Artistic Licence 2019

Our adjudicator, Anne Carrick, began by saying that she had enjoyed all the pieces and that one had even taken her back to her misspent youth in Northumberland. She went on to suggest that her credentials to act as an adjudicator rested on her experience as a critical reader. What she was looking for was something that had a striking beginning and an ending that rounded things off. She reminded us that every word must count and that proofreading before submission was essential. The need to consider the target audience, be it academics, newspaper readers or whatever, was also important.

Anne concluded her introductory remarks by saying that she had found a strong streak of feminism in many of the stories. She then went on to give her thoughts on each of the ten entries. Finally she announced the winners in reverse order as follows:
• 3rd place – ‘A Show of Hands’ – Sheila Whitfield
• 2nd place – ‘Dancing Feet’ – Maggie Cobbett
• 1st place – ‘A Picture Telling Many Stories’ – Phil Cook

Anne presented the trophy and this was followed by Phil reading his winning entry. It concerned the pleasure he had got from a print, bought for £5 at a boot sale, showing a Vienna streetscape painted by Herta Czoernig (1886-1970) above a few bars of Beethoven’s Appassionata Piano Sonata.

Maggie then read ‘Dancing Feet’, which explained how one look at a professional ballerina’s feet, scarred by her years en pointe, had killed any childhood notion of following suit. She had gone on to explore other dance genres, though, finishing with a love of salsa.

Sheila, inspired by the Group’s 2019 outing to Littlethorpe Potteries, had begun with the importance of hands to the work of the potter and continued into a reflection on the complexity and dexterity of hands in general and their place in both art and culture. She then read Malcolm Glasby’s entry, ‘A Personal Collection’, which described some of the artists from whom he had purchased original work and also the role of his wife Margaret’s own work in their art collection.

Finally Joe Peters read his entry ‘The Sound of Music’ which described how he came to be interested in and active in the world of folk dance – in particular Scottish, Irish and Dutch – and song, meeting Daphne at Scottish Country Dancing when living in The Hague. Today he finds watching Morris Dance very moving while he and Daphne have a large collection of traditional and folk dance music.

Malcolm and Phil are both retiring from the Group and Maggie paid tribute to the great contribution that both have made over the many years of their membership.

Finally, Maggie thanked Anne Carrick for her very positive and thorough adjudication and presented her with a token of the Group’s appreciation.

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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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