Workshop Blog 20/11/23

Report on the last ZOOM call this side of Christmas (or 15th January in fact).

Yes, this week we held our final ZOOM call until the third Monday in January. This is partly owing to the fact that Emily Garside is providing our flash fiction adjudication on 4th December which would otherwise have been via  ZOOM. Sorry for anyone who won’t be able to make it but if I don‘t see you before then, have a lovely Thanksgiving/Harveli Dharampura/Pushkar/Hanukka/Christmas/New Year. We love you all.

Some great news!!! Our dear friend Stephanie has won a category in a competition with Poetry Magazine (established 1912) which is second only to the New Yorker in the USA’s pantheon of poetry publications. Prestigious indeed. Her work is to be published in an upcoming edition of the magazine and we shall notify you as and when, et-cetera. Note: Stephanie didn’t want to tell us but another member who knew let the cat out of the bag. Well done young Stephanie. Check out the magazine here:  https://www.poetryfoundation.org/

This week we had 15 people and 2 cats (both Penny’s) on-screen, and managed 8 readers and 1 question/discussion. And we pretty much covered the globe with our ZOOMers; UK, Georgia, Lampeter, Abergavenny, Rhondda-Cynon-/Taff, somewhere indeterminate near Brecon. Everywhere.

First up was our dear friend Karen who has tested positive for C19 I’m afraid. But despite feeling way below par Karen read us a revised section of her children’s book, aimed at 8-10 years. This has so many inventive characters and situations you need to think of The Alice books and then some. One especially nice phrase was ‘…the crow dissolved into ripples of black feathers…’ We loved it.

Next up was Graham with his ongoing tale of criminals, terrorists, chemical weapons, police corruption, and some damned good writing. I loved ‘…trees creating pools of darkness…’ Great imagery, and a truly engaging story.

Sarah M was up then with Stream Of Bunk (apologies if I am incorrect here), a prose poem inspired by Steam-Punk works. (Think Jules Verne or HG Wells.) This was really good and I loved the ‘sepia tinted desert’ and the ‘retro future parade’. Sarah has such an inventive mind but always fills her work with great beauty.

Liam then didn’t read us anything but asked whether his work from which he has previously read should be changed from 1st person to 3rd person. Following a wide-ranging discussion it was agreed that sometimes you cannot tell what is best until you have finished the work, after which it could be 1st person, 3rd person, a disembodied narrator, or a combination of all three. But it is essential to remember what you have chosen and to not alter the style part-way through. Otherwise the more feeble-minded amongst your audience (such as myself) can become very confused.

Angela then gave us some haiku and a couple of poems in another form which I neglected to write down. Anyone help me out here? Anyway, it was all so gentle and evocative. Sheer beauty in condensed or stripped-out form.

Stephanie then read us a poem and a flash fiction, but it was hard to tell which was which, as they were both stunningly beautiful and also told us stories. Dust and Glitter was wonderful and The Tea Leaf Treachery was astonishing when Stephanie told us she had edited it down from a much longer piece. Very sensual. No wonder she won that prize.

Sarah S was next up and she gave us another part of the same story set at the beginning of World War One. This part began two days into the war and ended with the Battle of Mons and bad news from the front. Sarah’s managing of the characters and what was happening nationally and locally is masterful. (Mistressful?) I loved the way many peoples by then hated all Germans, including the poor butcher who had a German name only, except the King of Britain who was himself fully German really. Great observation.

Ian then went completely against what we expect of him to give us a piece of prose. Someone has been influencing his writing and whilst this was not funny, it was extremely deep and thoughtful, whereby Ian was trying to get inside the mind of a girl sitting on a bench in Roath Park. You have my support young man.

Jeff, who was too ill to read anything last week, closed our session with two poems. A Year in Rhyme was very funny and really clever, whilst Momentary Mental Wish was about Covid lockdowns and was excellent.

First to read next week are; Daniel, Bruce, Sharif, Matt, Paul if they are up for it.

Next week – 27th –  is a readings and feedback session, then we have the adjudication of our flash fiction competition on 4th December. These events are always great because they prove funny and informative.

Finally, we have our 500 word humorous Xmas competition, all read out and voted for on in the evening. This is followed by our Xmas party. Please bring food and something to drink, but the YMCA are not up for ‘binges’ so please be aware. All great nights to experience before Santa’s comes down the chimney to steal all your presents. Then we are back at the YMCA on Monday 8th Jan.

See yooz orl nex week. P.

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