Not like clockwork, thankfully!

Yesterday afternoon’s meetup went precisely to plan, thanks to the hard work, talent and unfailing good temper of all participants.  We even had time in hand for a longer than expected Question and Answer session with the four aspiring novelists – SUE BOYLE, LOUISE GREEN, MIRANDA PENDER and JUNE WENTLAND – and to extend the discussion very happily to embrace the audience.  It was a terrific asset to have NIKKI KENNA on hand to manage this.

But like clockwork it was not!  For a start, there was such variety of mood and pace in the programme, from the beautifully considered commissioned pieces in Writing Home – from AMA BOLTON, MARGARET HEATH, MICHAEL LOVEDAY, SUE SIMS, CONOR WHELAN  and SHIRLEY WRIGHT to the rousing exuberance of Sam Hinton’s Amphioxus Song, so ably lead by our two singers, working together for the first time. ( How nice it would be if this was not their last tandem appearance on our stage. )

We also had four solo songs in the programme, two each from MIRANDA PENDER and ANDREW LAWRENCE, Miranda with her own rivetting compositions, Andrew treating us to powerfully persuasive performances of Britten’s setting of Down by the Salley Gardens and to a second hearing of Patrick Kavanagh’s Raglan Road. There will be another chance to hear Miranda on Saturday 24 November when she will be contributing her own settings of four of the sonnets from The Letters from Mexico. ( Link to invite here. )

MICHAEL LOVEDAY’S launch reading was excellently designed to showcase his book Three Men on the Edge while supporting the two themes of the day – Home and Wilderness – with an arresting presentation of the idea of Edgelands, beautifully illustrated by his own suite of photographic slides. Thanks to Michael, there was a coherence and common energy running through the whole programme which hugely strengthened the impact of the afternoon.

The concert of readings, Writing the Wilderness, was eloquently and professionally  performed by the six group members, working together so smoothly it is almost impossible to believe that nothing in meetup presentations has ever been rehearsed.  Everything has to happen for the first time – necessarily,  when perfomers are gathering from so far afield.  Yesterday readers came from Sherborne, Beaminster, Bristol, Corsham, Wells and Stoke St Michael, in addition to those who simply dropped in from Bath.  When things work well, this creates a lovely sense of invention and spontaneity which seem now a really important part of the successes of these Queen Square afternoons.

The Writing the Wilderness concert has now been posted on the blog, in full, with pointers to the sources of the readings for people who want to follow up on leads.  We are also inviting SUBMISSIONS for a future meetup on the theme of Wild Places, to shape into a new concert for one of the early meetups of 2019.  To remain true to yesterday’s meetup, whose title was The Poetry of Prose, all submissions for this should come in as prose, please,  though nothing would prevent them appearing elsewhere as poetry. Please read the blog ‘concert’ before you submit.  You will see that the pieces need not be fully developed. They can have the characteristics of extracts and should not exceed 200 words, though you can obviously submit more than one.

As well as the concert and the reading list, I have included the three wilderness slides which we shared yesterday, and which may well prompt pieces of writing for this new set.

The Morning Workshop also featured prose.  We are all busy now sorting and sifting our thoughts on the sixteen fascinatingly varied submissions. Ama, Sue Sims and I have already posted our personal lists. I will be collating the others as they come in and eventually sharing an overview of workshop members’ thoughts.  ( Contributions written by members of the group will be handled VERY tactfully throughout, and not identified nor identifiable unless the author wants to declare themselves.)  It would, though, be very good to share the extracts from published novels with the blog.  Most of you already have these in Word Docs, so I would be hugely grateful if you would mail them through with title and author when you can find the time.

I will soon preface the Poetry of Prose collection with a few of the ideas about good prose which surfaced yesterday.  Here is the slide about how easy it is to write.  Which by the way is NOT by Ernest Hemingway.  Fake News didn’t start with Donald Trump. ( link to workshop page here)

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Many thanks as always to yesterday’s brilliant contributors and to our generous, kindly and responsive audience.

sue boyle
sunday 7 october 2018