Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Creative Edge

Sally Bavage writes:
Two local WEA creative writing groups joined forces to present their work around this year's LitFest theme of 'Edge' at the Heart Centre in Headingley.  We were delighted that the WEA sponsored the venue, and LitFest volunteers cooked up a storm of cakes. Food for the body sorted, we were then treated to food for the soul with collections of work by local writers.

First up were the Headingey group, tutored by Alison Taft, most recently the chair of the judges for last Saturday's LitFest event 'Pitch and Pen' as well as LitFest's last Writer in Residence.  A collection entitled Voices from the Edge included poems (prose and rhyming), tales,stories, extracts and enticing snippets that covered many topics. Some were mournful, some elegiac, some witty, some sad.  And saddest of all was the poem 'Tribute to Michael' who passed away this year and who has written for the LitFest every year since our first event in 2011.  Michael was always entertaining – he rocked a mean Hawaiian shirt covered in red chillies the year we explored Food - thoughtful and helpful to the end. 
Headingley Creative Writing Group    Photos Richard Wilcocks

The out-of-town bookshop customer reading with his coffee – 'Postcards from the Edge' of course.  The young woman on the edge of getting married – or was she?  Homeless, alien, alienating.  The short but sadly not sweet tale of a hedgehog at the roadside. A library as refuge for someone without roots for whom it is a good place to write poetry, because “poems make you exist again.”  A sci-fi dystopia where a treasured memory of 'dancefloor dirty' shoes will be a reminder of loss.  The tale of the snail and the caterpillar was not for children, but a moral tale for our times, involving a faithless wife who ran off (very, very slowly) and short-term temporary housing plans by a cocooned caterpillar. Families, those on the edge of dementia or insanity (monkeys of madness chattering in the jungle of my mind), Delhi inhabitants who literally live on the pavement's edge. Poems so imaginative you could see daybreak in Dingle, a town on the 'lip of the land'. We could feel the ruffled feathers of  the golden eagle soaring over a war zone. You could hear the 'silence that is overwhelming' in the Lake District. The despair of the abuse victim was palpable. Strong stuff, edgy in every way.  Something to remain in your dreams.

Osmondthorpe Hub Creative Writers

Replete with cake and coffee, back for the first of two groups of the Omondthorpe Hub creative writers.  Tutored by Maria Stephenson, they have been working on their pieces for some time. The nerves, pleasure and anticipation were all they gave us a selection of poems that reflected their studies of Shakespeare, a poet and playwright who they felt definitely had an Edge in his writings and his colourful life.  “He was a Romeo of his time and liked a drink or five”.  Married at 18, dead by 53, but ”he would make  a huge difference in the future.”  Quite.

Time is measuring moments, it is precious. Though perhaps less so to our William, who “lived it so carefree”. He wrote many comedies – and his words still speak to us today as “his humour never ends”.  Tragedies too, sonnets and histories too.  And a history of the life of one of our poets encompassed all these.  Other spoke of love and the universal longing for it, of history and its affect on the future, or the language that WS created that still lives on in puking, rant and savagery – Headingley on a weekend night!  A present plea to “Remember the spirit of who I am and drink to the memory of the man” conjures up the past too.  We were reminded that Shakespeare says “You must seize the day”, a good ending to the first section.

All home-made

The second group from Osmondthorpe gave us a short play, a modern version of Romeo and Juliet,but with a twist.  Written with a nod to the Shakespearian form: “I hear that the Capulet girl is a fair maiden”, it updates both the language and the social customs: “But I don't want a husband – I don't want to spend my life picking up some man's smelly hose.”  There is a Newsreader and a Narrator too, as well as your traditional characters.  And a Happy Ending.  Cheers and applause all round.  Funny, fast-paced, entertaining – just as Shakespeare would have wanted. 

As Hamlet said, “We know what we are, but know not what we may be”

True of our writers too, whose writing gets stronger every year as they find their voices. Now that really is Edgy.

Sue Heath writes:
Thanks to all the Headingley writers whose words we savoured: Cate Anderson, Howard Benn, Karen Byrne, Janet Fawdington, Nuala |Fernand, Liam Fitzsimmons, Alan Harding, Malcolm Henshall, Humaira Khan, Dru Long, Myrna Moore, Rutta Ozols-Riding and Marie-Paule Sheard.

Thanks, too, to all the Osmondthorpe writers whose work we enjoyed: Group 1: Gaynor Chilvers, Lisa Daniel, Carl Flynn, Mandy Hudson, Paul Jeffrey, Jenny Ruddock and Robert Thorpe
Group 2: l  Malcolm Banks, Paul Bugler, Julie Conroy, Julie Fisher, Sue Heath, Jane Moody, Pam Robinson, Lee Rowley and Winston Whiteley.

Finally, huge thanks to the staff from Osmondthorpe who give over and above to help make the event so successful: David Fletcher, Gavin Johnson, Anita and Claire.  Thanks too to Hazel Kilner, who was unable to be with us at the event but who put in so much hard work behind the scenes. 

Audience Comments
Very thought-provoking performances, particularly the readings about homelessness.  Topical and all indicative of the times we live in.  Thankfully, as far as I could tell, no mention of Trump or Brexit!
Excellent.  Very enjoyable and moving.

Interesting points of view, varied.  Always a pleasure.

Very creative excellent performances by all – well read by all.  Brilliant work by Osmondthorpe group – performers and staff.  
What a fantastic event.  The work of the Headingley group was excellent but the Osmondthorpe group took it to another level.  Brilliant work by the Osmondthorpe staff!

Very good music to entertain people as they were coming in and at the interval.  Very good entertainment by both groups as usual but I particularly like the performance by the Osmondthorpe Hub group.

Wonderful opening – funny and engaging. 'Dancefloor dirty' – what an enchanting phrase.  Impressive range of writing styles , moving and evocative.  Fantastic performances and pieces of work from Osmondthorpe.  Highlight of the Festival.

I found the event quite one of inspiration, both from the content and the obvious amount of work that had been put into its preparation.  The obvious enjoyment and fulfilment of the particpants also shows the trouble and thought put in to it.

It was great, truly inspirational.  Cakes very scrumptious too.  Writing could be larger on screen for those (like me) whose sight is not so good.

A wide range of work.  Everything went really well.  Great to be involved and wonderful to share work.   

A most enjoyable event – a big thank you to everyone involved.  Will look forward to future such events.

Always a great pleasure and inspiration.  Long may it continue.

All the pieces of work excellent and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Many heartfelt poems.  Gets you to think about your own life from different perspectives.  Makes me thankful too.  Some pieces with such intensity!

Very enjoyable – especially enjoyed the snail poem.  Very suitable venue.  Great to see what Jenny and Julie do at Osmondthorpe.

Pre-performance music was excellent.  An amazing array of talent in one room.  A really enjoyable couple of hours.

Very creative and enjoyable – diverse, excellent readings.  Both groups were inspiring.

Found the event imspiring with na lot of variations on the readings.  Think it might be the design of the room but was noisy at the beginning without consideration for the reader.

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