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’.
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.
Susan received the trophy from Sheila last night. Scroll down for full details of the Poetry Competition adjudication.
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.
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
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.
In a departure from previous years, our main festive celebration was held after Christmas. The Deanery provided a delicious lunch, there was plenty of time to relax and enjoy chat and laughter.
Everyone attempted the Chairman’s Challenge, which was a Shakespeare quiz in honour of the date. Susan Perkins won a small prize for the highest score.
Phil, Peter H and Sheila gave us their ‘party piece’, a famous Shakespearean speech brought up to date.
Everyone said they had enjoyed themselves. Considering that we all met just after 12.30 and didn’t start leaving until 3.30, that was probably true!
Click on the photos below to see them full size. Lack of clarity is due to less than ideal lighting conditions.
Quite an achievement! Ripon Writers’ Group owes its long existence to the inspiration of founder member Daphne Peters, seen here cutting the anniversary cake. Daphne described how the group had grown out of a Further Education class that she had run which, although doing well, had been axed after two and a bit years. She had been asked to continue running the class privately but did not want to. Starting a Group was the alternative suggested by one of the class members and made possible when another offered the use of her house for meetings. After building up cash reserves from subscriptions, meetings moved to hired venues two years later although there were always cost problems.
Fifteen current members attended the celebration and six sent apologies. Those who had known the Group over a long period of time shared their reminiscences and everyone was invited to contribute a personal vision of ‘the next 35 years’.
The splendid anniversary cake was baked by Ella Benigno and iced by current Chair Sheila Whitfield. In addition, Kathleen Atkinson provided an iced sponge.
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