Workshop Blog 18/9/23

Hi everybody peeps.


First a piece of bad news. Steve’s (long-suffering) good lady wife Karen tripped on a kerb and broke her jaw as well as suffering other facial and bodily injuries. (She assures us it wasn’t Steve.) Anyway, Karen is back from hospital and being taken care of by young Steve, which is the reason he has been absent from our airwaves and location for two weeks. I’m certain everyone will send Karen our love and best wishes for a speedy recovery and that she will soon be capable of telling Steve off again very soon. Bless you both.


This week we had 14 present on the ZOOM call, with three of them being first-timers. Next week is of course at the YMCA Plas Newydd Centre. Anyone needs information on location and/or access, please contact me and I shall provide. We also had a couple of excellent returnees in the forms of Sarah Smith and Karen Ardouin who are now residing in Pentyrch and Lampeter respectively. Apparently both are hoping for electricity and running water to be connected any year now.


Sarah was first to read with the beginning of Her Right Hand, a short story set in Crickhowell in 1279. It deals with a (trueish) tale of a wife left behind when her husband heads off on the crusades, only to be captured by the Saracens who of course had the temerity to be living where our bold and brave knights and Princes wanted to go a-plundering. As his family had no money, he said that his oh-so-loving wife would give her right hand for him, so that’s the ransom they demanded. We shall find out what happens soon, but the tale thus far is extremely well written and the voices are understandable and engaging. (At that time of course the people would either have spoken Welsh or French with a Nordic accent.) Thank you Sarah.


Next up was Karen, who gave us four poems. The first three were written about/from/around Alaska (which is right next to Lampeter I think) and were Whales and Mountains, Water and Mountains, and Ketchikan. The fourth was about/from/around Lampeter and was called (I believe) Emotions. Karen’s imagery is astonishing and her use of language beautiful. A range of mountains against the skyline resembling whales in the sea. And phrases such as ‘emotions protrude like broken discs’. Well blinking flip!!! More please Karen and Sarah, we’ve missed you both.


Angela then gave us a number of haiku, which is currently her chosen poetic form. One of them has been accepted for the British Haiku Society for inclusion in Blithe Spirit – their Journal’s – November issue. These were all Autumn haiku and Angela has been able to meld moments and emotions conveying a huge amount in so few words. We especially loved ‘sparks of sun on spider wires’. Booteefull. Please see link below.


We then heard from our three first-timers, with Liam first of the trio to speak. He studied film and video in university but has more recently been drawn to writing short stories and some screen plays. He is now keen to attempt a larger work and has written rough drafts of five chapters, though he is not certain of the order they should appear in and whether other chapters need to go between them. So enigmatic. Liam has agreed to bring something in to read for us.


We then heard from Fern, who studied English in university and is currently working on a children’s book or perhaps it’s a long poem. She is currently engaged in descriptive writing and has also promised to bring something to a future meeting for us to hear.


Finally Claire told us that she is a teacher and that she has self-published her first novel. A crime-thriller called The Secrets They Keep, and is working on her second novel Topala. She has also had a short story accepted by Anansi. See link below. Claire has also worked with John Blake (we know him). Excellent.


Sharif followed Claire with the beginning of a short story which is a work in progress and might be called Chaos And Calm. Sharif took as his inspiration Lao Tzu’s quotation ‘Be like water in the valley’ from Daoism. This was a typical Sharif piece, with fabulous words and sentences. “…books crammed onto shelves with promiscuous intensity…” and “…double-parked books…”. This was wonderful. We need the rest of it please young man. But don’t forget we need to know what happens in your other current piece about the smog of 52.


Laura gave us the first chapter of her next novel (the first one coming out in February). I especially liked the statement ‘Whatever you wear on the day of the apocalypse you will wear for the rest of your life.’ This was another courtroom setting but in this we are with the jury and it was wonderful to hear what they thought when they heard the world was about to end, and what their priorities became. Also pretty funny but in a sophisticated way. This was an excellent opening Laura and we need more please. (Side note: Laura’s marmalade cat made a significant and persistent appearance late in the session.)


Matt gave us the next section of The Stained-Glass Cat, in which Louse the kitten is being chased by the evil malefant, who has already captured the Something-In-The-Ivy and The Stained-Glass-Cat, so we know that tiny little baby boy Louse is everyone’s only hope. The chase was excellent and Matt uses an active not a passive voice to great effect. This is, I believe, going to be snapped up by a publisher.


Stephanie then read us a poem Frozen Embers which I believe was also about Alaska. Please chastise me if I am mistaken here Stephanie. The imagery, voice and pace were fabulous. Especially the phrase ‘I will keep you in my poetry’. Wow.


Jeff had the honour of wrapping up the evening with two new poems. Something Becomes Nothing was profound and intriguing, while Stars That Shine For Me had a dark and deep beauty. For both of these Jeff came at them from an oblique angle, giving us surprises and joy in equal measure. They were very well received and I believe these could well appear in a future publication. Keep them safe Jeff.


Next week (25th) is at the YMCA and the week after (2nd) is again via ZOOM. But in the meantime here are some things of interest and competitions for some of you to dangle toes in the water of. 


Bestest all, P.

1.             Hammond House competitions closing 30th September

Our 2023 Writing Competition offers over £2000 in cash prizes, a televised Award Ceremony and the opportunity to be published in our annual anthologies. Our Annual Literary Prize is back again with bigger prizes, publication for all shortlisted entries in our annual anthologies, a televised award ceremony, and an inspiring new theme.

Sponsored by the University Centre Grimsby, this annual writing competition, now in its seventh year, attracts entries from up to 30 countries around the world.
Enter any of our four categories – or all four! – for the opportunity to win cash prizes, have your work published,  feature in a televised award ceremony, at our annual literary festival and even have expert feedback on your work. 

Entry Fee: £10

Feedback Option: £10

Hammond House GOLD Members Entry Fee: £5

Entries open from 22nd February 2023

Submission Deadline: 30th September 2023

This year’s theme is FATE. We’re looking forward to reading your interpretations.

PDF VERSION OF 2023 Hammond House International Literary Prize


2.             Creative Writing Weekend course this month.

We are running another Creative Writing weekend course on Flat Holm Island at the end of September. We still have a few places left and would be very grateful if you could promote this to your members for us.

This link will take people straight to the course info, from where they can submit a booking inquiry:

Autumn Adventures in Creative Writing – Cardiff Harbour Authority

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