If All The Trees Were Bread And Cheese

There was a good audience turnout for this event, with short talks on different wines and cheeses interspersed by poetry and song.

It was unfortunate that the original positioning of the festival banners was beyond the reach of the sole microphone, but they were moved part way through the evening to give a better background to performers.

Participants from RWG were Sheila Whitfield, Carol Mayer, Daphne Peters, Maggie Cobbett, Ian Gouge, Kate Swann and Christine Summers – who performed with her husband Dylan. An enterprising gentleman from their table was able to improvise a microphone stand for them! Audience member Lizzy Goddard also read one of her poems. The photographs below show the performers in the same order as above.

Mini-Saga competition 2019

Anne Powell began her adjudication by giving some background to the trophy presented to the Group by her mother. She went on to say that she had enjoyed the eleven entries, which had covered such a wide range of topics – including eco issues, murder and geriatric drug dealing – that it had been difficult to make a judgement.

After presenting her comments on the individual entries Anne announced the results as follows:
• Winner – Susan Perkins with ‘Brief Notes on the First Week of a Very Big Undertaking’
• Runner-up – Christine Summers with ‘Parenthood’
Anne presented Susan with the trophy. The entries were then read in the following order:
• Susan – ‘Brief Notes on the First Week of a Very Big Undertaking’ – a retelling of the Genesis Creation story
• Christine – ‘Parenthood’ – a young woman mourns the loss of a baby whose heart had stopped beating several days earlier
• Caroline – ‘Stop the World I Want to Get Off’ – a man sitting by a canal gets a disapproving look from a passing jogger
• Phil – ‘When is a Good Turn not a Good Turn’ – a spider rescued from a house is eaten by a bird
• Peter H (Read by Sheila in Peter’s absence) – ‘It’s Time to Tell her’ – a man wants to tell a woman that he loves her but when he spots her she is with someone else
• Sheila – ‘You Couldn’t Write it . . . . ‘ – an Oregon novelist who has written on the subject of husband murder eventually becomes the suspect when her own husband is murdered
• Peter P – ‘What the Picture Suggested’ – a story of possible murder inspired by a painting of an empty potting shed seen in a local art exhibition
• Maggie – ‘Vaudeville Stars’ – piano playing Siamese twins discuss a former lover
• Carol – ‘These Days’ – the frustrations of growing old
• Janet – ‘The End of the Line’ – a bee killed in a kitchen fails to fertilise the flowers in a nearby orchard
• Joe – ‘Self-help at St Peters’ – a very elderly stalwart of a local church is discovered to have been involved in growing cannabis

After all eleven entries had been read Sheila invited Anne to share a piece of her own writing. She obliged with the short story ‘Ripples’, inspired by childhood memories of her grandparents’ house in Denby Dale.

Sheila then thanked Anne for her adjudication and presented her with a token of the Group’s appreciation. Members present reinforced the thanks in the usual manner and Anne took her leave as she had a 1½ hour journey to return home.

Time to get our hands dirty!

Our outing this year, organised as efficiently as ever by Susan, was to Littlethorpe Potteries. Owner Mark Curtis told us a great deal about the history, culture and tradition of the potteries before demonstrating the old working machinery used by several generations of his family. Then we all gathered round the wheel to watch him throw a large pot, talking us through all the different stages as he worked the clay.

His wife Ruth then took over to add to what Mark had already said about drying and firing, after which she settled us down round a large table to have a go at making coil pots. Finishing or ‘fettling’, as Ruth put it, is her main area of expertise and she showed us various ways of decorating our new creations. We were all encouraged to add our initials so that we can have them back after firing.

Yesterday’s rain made conditions in the clay pit too hazardous for close inspection, but some of us walked across the fields to take a look from a safe distance before thanking Mark and Ruth for a very enjoyable and informative afternoon.

It remains to be seen what stories, poems and articles will be written as a result of this memorable visit.

Much more information about Littlethorpe Potteries can be found at www.littlethorpepotteries.co.uk

An evening with Jackie Buxton

Writer and teacher Jackie began by warning us that she had problems with hearing loss. She said she had a copy writing background and that she liked the longer story format. Her two published books are the self-help ‘Tea and Chemo’ (2015) and the novel ‘Glass Houses’ (2016).

Jackie then went on to describe how she had kept a diary from the age of 13 until at 23 she abruptly stopped. During that time she sometimes found herself using the prose writing to keep her sane, particularly after some serious adverse events in her life. She said that she found two benefits from writing – writing as therapy and writing providing a focus in an increasingly multi-tasking world.

After reading languages at university, Jackie worked for a while in charity fundraising. On being made redundant she decided to take a year to write a novel (which she did) and do freelance copy writing. During that time she had her first child, followed in due course by another. The writing had to stop when one of her very young children suffered a stroke. Although the child recovered, her childhood was very intense so Jackie found that no writing other than copy writing was possible. Nevertheless she was desperate to write. The turning point came when she went on an Arvon course and wrote 10,000 words. She never returned to the first novel, having realised that she had outgrown it.

Jackie then went on to describe how she had got the inspiration for ‘Glass Houses’ from a couple of real-life events. As a result of repeated rejections of the resulting novel, despite targeting her submissions, she chose to do a six-week on-line self-editing course which was very intensive but very helpful. In 2014, halfway through the massive rewrite/edit of the original manuscript which then followed, she got cancer which made the rewriting painfully slow. During that time she ran a blog about cancer and the information she gathered, trying to make it positive. Seeing an opportunity to turn the blog into a book she wrote a precis of what that book might contain and sent it off. At the same time she was submitting the revised ‘Glass Houses’. The result was a phone call saying that a publisher wished to publish both. Further books are in the pipeline although at this stage their precise fate is still uncertain.

After the tea break Jackie answered questions. Among other things she said that she was somewhere between a plotter and a ‘pantser’ although she usually started with a particular final scene in mind. Research can alter the initial plot.

At the end of the talk Sheila and Susan expressed the Group’s thanks to Jackie for what was a very interesting and informative talk.

RWG at the second Ripon Poetry Festival

Please join us at Thorpe Prebend House, High St Agnesgate at 3.30 p.m. on Sunday 14th October.

No booking required for this FREE event and everyone is welcome! We shall be showcasing the work of some of Ripon’s best poets.

Some of our members are also featured in the Festival Competition Anthology Launch, which will take place the previous evening from 7.30 p.m. in the Undercroft of Holy Trinity Church. £5/£3 entry.

Author Talk by Maggie Cobbett

A Blast from the Past 2018

Our adjudicator on this occasion was Chris Lloyd, Chief Feature Writer for ‘The Northern Echo’ and the ‘Darlington and Stockton Times’. Well used to reading and ‘marking’ other people’s writing, he stressed the importance of grammar, spelling, structure and style.

After giving a very detailed critique of each of the entries in turn, Chris announced the results as follows:

• 3rd – Malcolm Glasby with ‘Some Enchanted Evening’ – a family memoir, the title coming from the tune which played a part in the story
• 2nd – Peter Page with ‘History as Teacher’ – a look at how and why we should learn from history
• 1st – Janet Barclay with ‘The Rise and Fall of the West Gallery’ – an account of the galleries provided in churches for musicians accompanying services.

As Janet was not present, the second and third placed entries were read out before Chris was thanked by Susan (Competition Secretary) and given a token of our appreciation.

The photo above shows Janet being presented with the Mary Rawnsley trophy at the first possible opportunity after the 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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