Latest news and external competition details
Official launch of 'The Words' - 3 November 2017 - The launch went extremely well thanks to all those who came, helped and contributed. The mayor, Councillor Rosemary Farmer, listened to some of the authors reading their pieces before congratulating the group and cutting the celebratory cake. Following this the chairs were cleared and everyone was invited to help themselves to the refreshments donated by members. To see photos and read more about the launch go to the Harpenden Writers Facebook page at https://en-gb.facebook.com/HarpendenWriters/ or our new WordPress site at harpendenwriters.wordpress.com
On Thursday 16 November at about 5.35pm, Jo Coleman and Derek Smith chatted to Radio Verulam's Danny Smith live on his drivetime show. They talked about The Words anthology, the book launch and the group, also the book signing taking place at Harpenden Books on the morning of Saturday18 November. Well done to all for a great profile of the writers group.
Jonas Hurst, 6 October 2017 - Jonas gave us an insightful and useful talk on 'Presenting yourself - and your work'. His background as a musician, TV presenter, trainer and theatrical producer provided him with all the necessary skills. He has run the Hurst Childrens Theatre Group (HCTG) over the last 12 years and provides classes in Harpenden, St Albans and Berkhamstead.
Stephen Lloyd, 2 June 2017 - Stephen spoke first about his love of the music of Frederick Delius which he inherited from his father and grandfather who were both great admirers.This led to a passion for English music in general, most recently resulting in the bookConstant Lambert – Beyond The Rio Grande, a huge tome full of fascinating details about the composer and set against a background of the years when English music was struggling for serious recognition. Stephen took the title of his book fromLambert’s best-known work, The Rio Grande, a sort of piano concerto with jazz overtones and chorus. The book ranges from the early days when Lambert wrote for Diaghilev’s Ballet Russes, through to the film music for Anna Karenina.
Together with Frederick Ashton and Ninette de Valois he established Sadler’s Wells Ballet in 1928. She regarded him as a musician who could visualise music and ballet as one. We heard of his long love affair with Margot Fonteyn whom he admired for her musicality. The book covers his whole life in all its aspects.
He had a wide circle of friends. One of them, the author Anthony Powell, used him as the basis for the character of Hugh Moreland in A Dance to the Music of Time. The witty womanising figure was widely recognised within his circle.
Stephen surprised us with the number of books he has written. He edited Fenby on Delius, a collection of Eric Fenby’s writings about the composer. As a young man Fenby had devoted himself to helping the blind and paralysed Delius, living with him and his wife Jelka in France, and taking down from dictation several works that Delius would otherwise never have written.
H.Balfour Gardiner, a composer best known for his Evening Hymn, bought their house in France so that they could stay there for their remaining days. Gardiner is well remembered for his patronage of English music at a time when composers were finding it hard to get their music performed. Stephen’s book about him reveals how much he did to promote English music, including enabling the first performance of Holst’s The Planets in war-torn Britain.
Muse of Fire published in 2001, tells of William Walton’s early promise and his biggest success,Façade, the music written to accompany Edith Sitwell reading her poems. It contrasts sharply with his popular choral work,Belshazzar’s Feast.
It’s not only books. Stephen is responsible for numerous programme notes, reviews and articles about music.
Carol Hedges, 3 Feb 2017 - Carol lives in Harpenden, and is the author of 17 books for Teenagers/Young Adults and Adults. Her writing has now received much critical acclaim, and her novel Jigsaw was long-listed for the Carnegie Medal. She is currently writing a series of adult Victorian Crime Fiction novels set in the murky gaslit world of 1860's London and featuring the same two Scotland Yard detectives - Detective Inspector Leo Stride & Detective Sergeant Jack Cully.
Her first book was Diamonds & Dust, A Victorian Murder Mystery. The second, Honour & Obey was published in November 2014. Death & Dominion followed and her latest published novel is Rack & Ruin. They are available as both book and e-book. The fifth, Smoke & Mirrors, will be published in 2017.
Harpenden Writers, Jan 2017 - some of our group at the January 2017 New Year's meeting, sharing not only some finger food but also their writing - the general theme was 'humour' but as always that was optional. We heard some heart-touching poems and stories - one being particularly scary! Creative criticism was offered when writers requested it.
We discussed the proposed Anthology and started a file for work which could be included. Everyone was encouraged to search out their favourite piece of work or produce something new to add to the folder.
Harpenden Writers produce work very varied in subject and style, whether it is poetry, prose, drama or articles. Serious or frivolous, autobiographical or wildly fanciful, all styles of writing are acceptable. Members may read their work and receive constructive criticism or advice. This can be great fun and encourage the diffident new writer.
An internal competition for prose and poetry is held every year, and members are prompted to take part in external competitions.
Visitors and new members are always welcome. To find out more go to our 'Contact Us' page or ring 01582 760564 for more details.
Michael King 4th November 2016 - Michael led this meeting to set and discuss the 2017 writing competition on the theme 'The road not taken'. We studied two poems written by contemporaries: The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost, which was written in response to The Sign-Post by Edward Thomas.
Both poems discussed decisions - positive and negative - and both poets knew that many years hence they would remember the decision they had made now for good or ill. The group discussed in depth and came away with lots of ideas for their own writing, including:- A veiled (auto)biography; Why were we there just then?; Time travel - altering the future/past; Choosing to turn left or right (small decisions having big outcomes); The domino effect; Unconscious or unwilling choices; Current events or mood influencing the decision; Optimism of looking back - it doesn't have to be a gloomy outcome; What if....something had or hadn't happened?; Story/poem etc.; Humour; Parody. Competition ENTRY FORM for members only.
Anna Avebury 2nd September 2016, ‘Puffs, Patches, Bibles, Billet-doux - the mystery, fascination and power of lists in poetry.' - Members of Harpenden Writers Circle were motivated by Anna to make lists relating to a subject, before creating a poem about it.
Anna is a member of Ver Poets and Second Light poetry network for women. Her poems have been shortlisted, won competition prizes and been published. She is a former English teacher who now works for Hertfordshire Libraries at St Albans Central Library.
Anna suggested three subjects and brought a selection of postcards to give members ideas. It was great fun and produced some amazing pieces in a very short time. Breakfast was one theme, and one person who had never written a poem before got as far as the following - inspired by breakfast at a well know supermarket where customers could choose any six from the twelve items on offer for £4.99.
Shall I have the
porridge from Norwich,
I start the day with cheese,
Shall I crunch some buttery toast
And what's your take on bacon.
Shall I add tomato and mushroom,
Shall I choose golden fried eggs sizzling
in the pan,
Then I shall end with coffee. Dark and rich.
There's nothing finer than a four ninety niner. (Anon.)
Before long, a variety of poems were generated - poignant, thought provoking, amusing or with potential to be polished. A surprising and stimulating morning.
1st April 2016, congratulations to the winners and runners up of the Harpenden Writers 2016 Prose and Poetry competition - This year's Poetry and Prose competition was set and judged by Dr Jennifer Young, Associate Dean and Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing at the University of Hertfordshire. Jennifer came to talk to the group in November 2015 and introduced the year's theme: SERVICE.
19 entries were received, roughly half poetry and half prose. Jennifer was impressed by the range of interpretations of the theme, noting the use of humour, especially dark humour, and the skilful use of active verbs. Pieces covered subjects such as bees, soldiers, the Church and family.
The winning entry in the POETRY section
was Daphne Schiller with her poignant poem Her Favourite Hymn which reflected on the
effect of war on a homecoming serviceman and his family. Second place was awarded to Joyce Bunting
who wrote Long Service Award about the unwanted retirement gift of a clock, treating the subject with
humour and wry anger at the thoughtless gift.
The competition attracted fewer entries this year, but the standard was high providing a positive
reflection of the talent within Harpenden Writers.
Michael King 5th February 2016 - guest speaker Michael King is a lecturer in literature at the Workers’ Education Association. His theme was ‘Setting the Scene’, or more specifically the importance of place in writing prose and poetry. Because it is generally easier to find examples in complete shorter poems rather than extracts from prose, Michael chose to concentrate on poetry and he helpfully provided everyone present with copies of the poems he was going to discuss.
The poets he had chosen were a pleasing mix of the familiar and (to many) the unfamiliar, each poet in a different way using language to highlight aspects of place, whether it be the rugged natural beauty as viewed by Wordsworth in The Prelude; A E Housman’s largely imagined Shropshire that was the setting for his A Shropshire Lad cycle of poems; or through the childhood reminiscences of Dylan Thomas (Fern Hill), John Betjeman (appropriately enough Hertfordshire, with his dislike of modernity and his love of old place names - and even the names of old motor vehicles) and Philip Larkin, whose sense of belonging to place – or not as the case may be – was expressed so poignantly in two poems, The Importance of Elsewhere and I Remember, I Remember. Among the other poems examined was Edward Thomas’s much anthologised Adlestrop in which both place and moment are so memorably captured. All the poems Michael had chosen were discussed in depth with much contribution from his audience.
Although after the usual mid-session coffee break it had been intended to have a workshop, because the discussion had proved so interesting, everyone felt that they would prefer to continue with those poems not yet touched on, and of particular interest were two by Douglas Dunn (b. 1942) which dealt with the stark, urban landscape of Northern Ireland streets, and one by Simon Armitage (b. 1963), The Vision, with its never-realised city of the future.
Not only did the meeting give everyone an insight into the style and technique of various poets but hopefully it introduced them to some new poems and poets that they will want to investigate further. It was an absorbing meeting that was only brought to an end by the restriction of time, and we hope that Michael King can be persuaded to visit us again.
Dr Jennifer Young 6th November 2015 - Jennifer introduced the annual prose and poetry competition which this year is on the subject of 'service'. The group brainstormed ideas on the interpretation of the theme. Jennifer also introduced an innovative short workshop using the prompt of the first initial of familiar names to find ways of describing a character.
John Goh 2nd October 2015 - John. a law lecturer and amateur writer, talked to Harpenden Writers on the subject of law as it affects writers. After a brief introduction, John took the group through issues such as originality, evidence, copywright and defamation, offering examples and encouraging discussion. The group then worked through various group exercises. The meeting was lively and John received an enthusiastic response.
Ruth Nason10th April 2015 - prose and poetry competition results - our judge for this year's competition was Ruth Nason, and the theme was 'Time'. Ruth was a children's non-fiction editor before becoming a freelance editor and writer. She has been responsible for several successful Watts series, including My Life, My Religion. Results of the competition were announced at April's meeting. First place in the prose competition was won by Simon Bowden, and second place went to Norman Alvey. In the poetry competition first place was won by Daphne Schiller, and second place went to Viv McManus. Congratulations to our winners and to everyone who entered. See the winning entries here.
Julian Mount 9th January 2015 - Julian is a songwriter, singer and musician. He has a distinct style and writes with thought-provoking wit and humour. The group learnt a lot about the formation of song writing - particularly folk songs, even joining in on some of the choruses of Julian's songs. He entertained us for over an hour and answered a variety of questions. Visit Julian's website to find out more about him and his music, and also the Watford Folk Club which he helps run. http://www.circusunlimited.com/julianmount.htm
3rd October 2014 - Zia amazed us all with the amount of work
she does. As well as being a qualified horticulturist, running gardening workshops from her home in Hertfordshire, Zia has
over 25 year's experience in the publishing world and currently writes for newspapers, garden journals, blogs and women's
press. Zia is also an editor, and co-author of a number of books. She gave us an excellent insight into her work and we all
came away feeling inspired. Visit Zia's website http://ziaallaway.com/ and learn more about her.
We were delighted to hear that Harpenden Writer, Stephen Lloyd, has had his book published
Constant Lambert, Beyond The Rio Grande by Stephen Lloyd
To the economist and ballet enthusiast John Maynard Keynes he was potentially the most brilliant man he'd ever met; to Dame Ninette de Valois he was the greatest ballet conductor and advisor this country has ever had; to the composer Denis ApIvor he was the greatest, most lovable, and most entertaining personality of the musical world; whilst to the dance critic Clement Crisp he was quite simply a musician of genius. Yet sixty years after his tragic early death Constant Lambert is little known today. As a composer he is remembered for his jazz-inspired The Rio Grande but little more, and for a man who selflessly devoted the greater part of his life to the establishment of English ballet his work is largely unrecognized today. This book amply demonstrates why he deserves to be held in greater renown. With numerous music examples, extensive appendices and a unique iconography, every aspect of the career and life of this extraordinary, multi-talented man is examined. It looks not only at his music but at his journalism, his talks for the BBC, his championing of jazz (in particular Duke Ellington), and - more privately - his long-standing affair with Margot Fonteyn. This is an indispensable biography for anyone interested in Constant Lambert, ballet and British musical life in the first part of the twentieth century.
STEPHEN LLOYD is a writer on British music and author of William Walton: Muse of Fire (Boydell, 2001).
Lesley Eames 7th March 2014 - An informative talk and workshop from a talented writer who has sold more than 70 short stories to the women's magazine market and has won awards such as the Romantic Novelist's Association's Elizabeth Goudge Cup and the Festival of Romance New Talent Award. She is currently signed to a literary agent who is working with her on a novel. Lesley is a tutor for Writer's News home study courses and gives talks and workshops to writers' groups. Lesley's talk and workshop for Harpenden Writers was titled 'Manuscript Mountaineering' and looked at the art of keeping the reader engaged and wanting to read on. It was perfect timing for our prose competition and gave us all a very appropriate focus for our writing.
Jean Gardner 6th December 2013 - Jean told us how she made the most of her research and encouraged writers to do the same. She emphasised the use of primary sources where possible or double checking of secondary sources. She also said that things we see and hear around us everyday come in useful. A holiday in Hungary near Lake Balaton resulted in five pieces all written from a different angle and paid for. Ostensibly on a geology study trip she visited the Herend ceramics factory and museum. She wrote this up for Collect It! Magazine. A second piece about the clays went to the Geological Association magazine. Hertfordshire Countryside took a piece bringing in the local society. The Rothschild design whose arms appear on some of the ceramics went in the Buckinghamshire magazine and The Lady took a piece from the travel aspect outside of Budapest.
Links to some of Jean's writing Comptometers Royal Christmas Broadcasts Looking forward to the rest of my life
Brad Ashton 5th April 2013 - the meeting was lit by the humour of Brad Ashton which was thoroughly enjoyed by all the members who were there. Here are a few photos of Brad and members from that day.
Mary Skinner's poetry anthology - Rocky Places
We are very pleased to announce that Mary's anthology is now available from Waterstones in St Albans.
www.writerselection.com is a website dedicated to helping writers get their short stories published.
They are about to run a series of short story writing competitions which are free to enter and there is a first prize of £25.
To find out about competitions as soon as they are announced, sign up to the newsletter at http://eepurl.com/xS8ST and receive further info.
‘This Craft Called Writing’ a new blog which features articles on writing and editing techniques and hosts guest posts by new and established authors.The blog can be found here: http://lorrieporter.wordpress.com/