As usual, Rod DiGruttolo did a great job moderating our meeting.
We were thrilled to welcome back Jim Kelly from his hiatus to the north, so we asked him to kick off our meeting. As usual, he didn't disappoint. First he shared a letter Irv Newman had written to a woman named Gail at the local paper from his home area of Surf City, NJ called The Sandpaper. In this letter he discussed how grateful he was to hospice and that it had extended his life. Recently they gave his wife the gift of 5 days off by coming to care for him so she could enjoy some free time. He donated his car and some money to Tidewell Hospice to thank them. In fact, as I wrote this blog and linked in Tidewell, I saw that Irv's story is featured on their website. As it's a YouTube Link, I thought you guys might want to see...
Jim ended his time with a poem he wrote while back at his old stomping grounds called "Goin' Home". It clearly depicted change...and how through the years, it's virtually impossible for anything to stay the same. I would have posted the poem, but I didn't get a chance to ask Jim for permission.
Ed Ellis shared a piece called "I Wish" as he celebrated his 50th anniversary from military discharge as well as honored those we lost on 9/11. In his piece he took a somber moment to reflect on war and make a wish for the wisdom of those who came before us. It was heartfelt and definitely a more sensitive side to our smarty pants prankster....but moving.
JoAnne Phillips, author of Adventures of a Sea Hag, read a chapter called "Religion and Communism" from her new work in progress, The Matrix of Life. In this chapter she talked about picking out a Christmas tree, befriending a goat named "Billy" who she treated as her pony and being a time of love and laughter. Her parents reconciled and remarried in the spring, moving them into a one bedroom storefront in town where the store window was painted to prevent people from being able to see inside. This was also when she was first introduced to McCarthyism. It didn't take any stretch of the imagination for anyone in the group to figure out that this spelled trouble for the precocious, young JoAnne....and we were right.
Pat Patterson came up next. Rather than read from his manuscript The Takers, he shared some valuable insights he's gained in his writing journey. He realized that editing is not exactly what he thought it was. Once he completed writing his manuscript, he made the assumption (incorrectly) that he could hire an editor, get the editor to unravel the "tangled ball of yarn" that was his story and fix his errors, then receive his work, ready for publication. Instead, he found that errors are costly and that it's never a good idea to send a first draft off to an editor. The time to submit to an editor is when you've polished it as much as you possibly can and you need some assistance on the finer points. So, he printed off a chapter and handed it to the group with a request for feedback and support.
Don Westerfield went back to his poetry roots with two pieces. One was called ODE to SEA GRASS which was a lovely piece that brought us back to nature and our small part in it. The other one got folks talking, so I thought I'd share it here. (We also learned the difference between an elegy and a eulogy. ;-))
then will the trees sing
have i these mortal woods
down worn trails of tears and laughter
step by searching step i trod
pathways that split and split again
those chosen roads of faulted time
soon to forget my passage
but if ever the soul survives
the strife of its mere existence
these woods will always know the truth
as the breath of life expends
when evening is nigh
then will the trees sing
Kitt Crescendo finally shared the beginning to one of her works in progress, Three For All. She needed to read it out loud in front of an audience to hear some spots that might be a bit rough. She was able to pick a couple of errors out for herself, and with the help of the team, also caught a couple of repetitive words. Someone also commented that there seemed to be a lot of body parts slipping on each other thanks to the suntan oil. We weren't sure whether or not that was necessarily a bad thing as she is writing an erotic piece.
Asha Anderson came one last time before she headed off to Asia for a year. She and her lovely poetry will be missed, but we have high hopes that once she returns from her adventures abroad, that she will come find us again. In a writing class back in Ashland, OR 1988, she was challenged to write a piece with a specific subject in mind. This is the poem I elected to post because the playful whimsy drew me in...and I could almost hear a Scottish or Irish accent reading the piece.
When I had feet me shoes were yellow
ah yellow as pollen they were
as bright as lemons
bright as me lad's smile
bold as his laugh
an oh how I danced in me shoes
a swarm a bees drunk from the flowers
sportin their yellow pants an boots
knew not as many turns as me lad an me
not have as many
an when in the slow river a bare foot
we went a wadin me lad an me
an bare we were from toe to head
a hand an hand
me yellow shoes were glad to wait
all hodge podge with his
for shoes has no need a feet
though feet has a need a them
but now old as I be I has no need a shoes
not yellow not brown
but glad I am glad as I was when I was a lass
for I got me a lad an I rather him than me feet.
Ernie Ovitz went next, sharing more from his work The Seventh King. In this chapter, Theodorus is thrown into jail for his beliefs in Christianity. He attempts to continue sharing his message only to realize he's not alone in his cell and that the other guy, hidden by shadows, is a bit scary. Ernie left us wondering as to the identity of the mystery man and how he ties to the unrest that seems to be steadily increasing with every chapter.
Jenny Oberg, inspired by the work of Deepak Choprah, wrote a piece of nature poetry that sparked some spunky debate amongst her listeners. Jenny wrote her piece about majestic creatures from awed eyes, pointing out how although many of them appear the same, they're all different. Some of the listeners find beauty in the Darwinistic tendencies of animals and the very literal and real battles that occur in nature. Others felt just as passionately that they'd rather see it from a starry-eyed, idealistic vision of grace and majesty.
Barry Mick took our feedback from the previous meeting and touched up his work in progress, roughly titled "Dragonfly". The general feedback was that the flow of the story now had a nice, smooth rhythm. We look forward to hearing more about his dragonfly...as the feeling that it is symbolic for something much deeper comes through loud and clear.
Beth Rice, Author of I'm Adopted, I'm Special along with her blog, Animal Tales, read a very powerful chapter she called "Job Hunt" from her work in progress, Pawprints Are Forever. In it, we find the heroine at a plant nursery, reminiscing about joyful times spent there with her family and quickly realize that it had been her family's business. Heartbroken, they are closing the doors for the last time. In their line of work, it was virtually impossible to compete with the big business companies. It's also the first time she sees her husband, the man who has always been her rock, completely devastated. As she'd been discussing creating a hook and positioning of her book, we firmly felt that THIS should be her beginning...and a very strong hook. This part definitely left many of us emotionally impacted and devastated on the protagonist's behalf.
One of our newer members, Patrick Hurley, finally decided to be bold and stepped forward to read a character sketch he'd written about a female character from the island of Petite Marie known only as Patrice. Beautiful and a bit mercenary, she'll do whatever it takes to avoid becoming an average local. She wants power and wealth and she's willing to do whatever it takes to get there...including a bit of drug trafficking. This character definitely has a lot of potential. We can't wait to see how she is weaved into the plot he's creating in his head.
Andrew Parker ended our meeting in his inimitable fashion, by introducing us to his newest work in progress that he is tentatively calling I'm Drunk and I'm Calling From A Payphone In London. The unique creation occurred when he'd passingly mentioned it in a profile he'd created for himself, causing a reader to email him asking where he could purchase this book as it sounded very interesting. True to Andrew's personality, he decided to make the story a reality. In the first chapter we're introduced to a drunk homeless man named George Lissman who'd fallen on hard times after his inability to quit alcohol caused him to lose his job as a conductor for an orchestra. Every night he sits in a bar where he drinks, then drunk dials random phone numbers. On this particular night, someone answered... Her name is Jacqueline Aurora. Let's just say that hilarity ensued. Once Andrew finished reading, everyone was leaving with either a belly ache or wiping away tears.
Thanks again to everyone for their wonderful contributions!