Our first meeting in November had fewer people than previous sessions, the lower turnout attributed to the late night most of us spent glued to the television sets watching election returns the night before. Still, we had eleven guests and a very good evening of reading and discussions. We welcomed back another regular attendee, sun-bird Kathleen Schwartz.
George Mindling started the evening with a wrap-up of the recent FWA conference in Orlando, and encouraged everyone to consider attending the conference in 2013. We discussed the upcoming Holiday get-together and will decide at our next meeting, November 21 (The day before Thanksgiving) whether the Christmas get-together will be on December 5th, or on December 19th.
George read a short piece from the Pepper Tree by our centenarian and faithful contributor, Ed Lyman, entitled “Looking Forward.” Ed rarely misses a meeting, so George read the piece as a part of our regular Ed Lyman readings.
We sadly learned the following day that Ed passed away in his sleep on the 6th, the details of his service, and the piece read at the meeting, have been posted on the blog under “Our Loss.”
Peter Frickel took over as moderator and chief cat-herder for the evening, and did an admirable job! He started by introducing Joanne Phillips who continued her saga Memoirs of a Sea Hag. Joanne has taken us through the Caribbean on a sailing adventure that never fails to engage the audience with her “Kinetic, not dry,” storyline.
Kathleen marked her return with a short, creative non-fiction piece, and Jim Kelly read Irv Newman's engaging story of coaxing a hospice nurse to write her memoirs. Jim then read two of his marvelous poems, one of which he has graciously allowed us to present here. The work, Like Him, is copyrighted by Jim Kelly, 2012, who retains all rights to the work. It may not be copied or distributed without his permission.
"Take these, she says,
Dad doesn't need 'em anymore."
Hands him a pair of shoes—not new, but shiny,
as if they expect to go somewhere.
A couple trips in the rain will change all that.
Feels uneasy at first,
glances over his shoulder,
makin' sure he's draggin'
only one shadow.
Dust runs its fingers
through his furrowed brow,
reminding him of things that were . . .
the last one yet to come.
Like ties beneath his feet,
weathered and whiskered,
he wanders off, spending space
between near and far―
unencumbered by directions.
Yesterday walks barefoot
through the softest grass,
down the briared paths
they often shared.
James O. Kelly
The meeting continued with Cecile Bell reading a reflective, “Milk Room” piece she wrote while waiting for the meeting to start! Cecile's mother, Paula, was a guest for the evening and got to read, rather hear, some really great writing.
Don Westerfield, who had poems also published in the recent “Pepper Tree,” read “The Runner,” and perhaps summed up why we write best of all; “I started writing one thing, and was amazed at what came out...” What came out was great writing about the service and sacrifice of American military men and women. Perfectly written for Memorial Day reminding us “that free is never free.”
Kit Crescendo read Mirror, an ingenious piece with a swirl, and then a touching account based on a personal experience that had everyone in absolute silence. Writing about personal tragedy is hard enough, but to make it a spell binding narrative is a craft.
Peter Frickel finished the evening's readings with a piece from the Herald Tribune about forty words, and then another selection from his upcoming eighteen part work named “Lilies of the Vlei.” Peter also has the talent to engage the listener with his prose and ability to describe natural beauty with the raw dangers of his South African homeland.
We wrapped up the evening with an open floor discussion about writing in general. Several suggestions were to do more presentations about the craft of writing in future meetings, and we will do just exactly that. The readings are extremely popular, but we can balance reading with presentations that everyone will enjoy.
With that, we wrapped up our meeting and said our goodbyes until our next meeting, Wednesday, November 21st.