Workshop Blog 26/06/23

Good day to you all; and as I write this on a rainy 28th of June, listening to a mix of Peter Gabriel, Pulp, and Ska/Bluebeat/Reggae/Rock-Steady, I am reminded of three of the most influential events that occurred on this day previously. You may place these in importance based on your own situations and considerations. So we have the assassination in Sarajevo of Arch-Duke Franz Ferdinand of Austro-Hungary and heir to the throne, bringing about the start of WWI. Then we have the beginning of the Stonewall riots in New York in 1969, beginning (arguably) significant changes in gay rights. Finally, I bring you the event in 1997 that put an end to any thoughts of free dental care in the USA, when Mike Tyson was disqualified for twice biting Evander Holyfield’s ears in a heavyweight boxing world title bout, resulting in him being disqualified on the spot (though he somehow denied the charge) and losing his boxing license temporarily. After the bout Holyfield was asked what he thought of the matter and he said ‘Pardon? What?’


This Saturday 1st July, we are at Cathays Library for readings, discussion, Q&A, from 2 pm. If you would like to read and are not yet on Nisha/Ruth’s list, please let me know. If you want to come along it’s free of charge and you can book tickets via EventBrite just in case it’s full. Please keep checking our website for updates and our blog posts. And if anyone is interested in beta reading for novels, short fiction, poetry, etcetera please let me know. We hope to soon have an appearance on our website specifically for this.


Anyway, as many of our members weren’t even around in 1997 (not a bad year to my mind), very few of us in 1969 (heady days), and only a couple of us in 1914 (I was too young to drink then); I shall restrict further comments to the evening before yesterday. Monday 26th at the YMCA was another night to remember. Firstly, there were 17 members present, and we had eight readings. The chair announced our Summer Humorous Short Story competition and end of season party. (One year, owing to a typo, I asked everyone to write a shirt story. Dear me.) Anyway, the terms of engagement are as follows; Up to and as close as possible to 400 words. Preferably humorous. To contain the four words; Dictaphone, Exquisite, Vessel, and Slurp. (None of these were my doing I assure you) Plus up to 396 more words of your own choosing. All entries to be read out on the evening by the authors or their nominated ‘others’ by prior arrangement with the chair, then voted on by those present and a fandabbydozy (to quote Nicola Sturgeon) trophy will be handed to the winner. There is usually a smaller prize for the runner-up, in order to avoid total disappointment. Entry is FoC and this event occurs in two weeks time on the 10th July at the YMCA.


Next week – 3rd July – is also at the YMCA, and is the adjudication of our article/review competition, by the wonderful Penny Stead. She is not an author or simple tutor, but was the head of all cleverness to do with the English language in Wales, and even set exam papers. Penny is a great one for pointing out where things are not quite right and how to improve them, and you will all love her. She has previously adjudicated I believe two of our competitions and people said how great she was, so I am not merely gushing because someone has dropped me a fiver.


Also on 10th we shall begin with a (hopefully brief) discussion and vote on CWC charges. We believe it is necessary to increase annual and weekly rates as shown in attached documents. Please also see the opportunity/ies attached. After this session on 10th we are away on our Summer break, returning September 4th via ZOOM. (No more ZOOMs this term, sorry.)


Readings then. Sharif was first up with the first part of a (longish) short story called Fortuna, which bore little resemblance to the opening and closing track of Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana, but was another significant piece of writing from the young man, about William Morris (poet, fantasy writer, textiles designer, and architectural conservationist) and his wife. I love the way Sharif can be economical with his words whilst heavy on the emotions, and character building. Almost a master class every time this fellow reads. Well done sir.


Ruth had the difficult job of following Sharif with her new poem as yet untitled but possibly Let Me Dream Of Home or Withdrawal. This was essentially about missing family and home and was beautiful from start to finish, placing you in the reader’s heart and soul even though the ending was on the sad side. Wonderful. Ruth. Please read this again when you have concluded the piece.


Matt was next up next with more of the Stained Glass Cat. Not to give anything away but Louse the kitten comes out of his fracas with the bone-thorned toad well and the latter not so good. But this was quite exciting and we hope to soon meet the malefant and find out how Louse carries the day for everyone. This is great for us all to hear and I’m certain when Matt gets an agent and publisher he is going to be top of the children’s book charts. Purrfection.


It has been suggestive that I should invent my own superlatives as I have used up everything in the OED, but I say that is a great situation t be in, owing to the brilliance we hear every week in the readings and also in the feedback. This was proven when, after three magnificent readings already, Eryl stepped up to the plate and gave us the opening of a longish short story as yet untitled. This was another clever invention from Eryl, about a sort of adventure-land for children where adults were not allowed, but their credit cards were. The dialogue was excellent and everyone seemed to find someone or something relatable within the words. More please sir.


Jeff stepped up next with four new poems he wrote that very afternoon. The things Jeff simply ‘dashes off’ are extraordinary. Strawberry Jam Sandwich was a lovely take on maximising the content between the bread whilst minimising spillage. A few people suggested it should be sent to Hartleys (other purveyors of fine preserves are available). Although the first poem brought the most feedback, Savouring The Present, When Force Is right, and Edge Of Reason, were all very thoughtful pieces and worthy of inclusion in a collection and we look forward to Jeff’s next readings with bated breath.


Kim then read another section of his work about the mid-80s, which some of us remember quite vividly. Kim is writing this novel with direct influence from his experiences in such situations. There was a discussion about whether it is faction or a fictionalised version of real events, but Kim insists it is a stand-alone novel, the setting of which he has personal memories. All constructive suggestions, queries, and general feedback, while the novel itself does give an extremely accurate picture of that time and how political activists (individuals and groups) behaved and were viewed. This could be a TV series or film, but for now, we encourage Kim to keep working on it and get the novel completed. It could be very big young man.


Last up was Angela who read us the first six pages of a ten-page short story. We ran right out of time to hear all of The Castle, but we loved what we heard. It was really funny, but not at all slap-stick. Very sensible and intelligent and so well observed. Very few minor observations for improvements and great appreciation for the talent and humour. Thank you Angela. We all loved it and want to hear the rest.


See yooz at the YMCA next week and the week after.


Hasta a luego todos mi amigos, Pablo Francisco Jauregui-Tomas.

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