Here we are, the second meeting of the year already. This week we were joined by Susan Haley, the founder of our group. Sue has been away for several years, we've missed her; WELCOME BACK SUE.
Also joining us for the first time in a while were Jim Kelly, one of our master poets, and George Mindling, a previous leader and good friend. We also welcomed back Peter Frickel after a brief illness, his wife Barbara was in attendance too; great to see you all, we hope to see you more frequently in the future. Bill Elam slipped in a little later; cold weather must have driven him further south.
Due to the number of attendees, twenty, we did not have an extended discussion period but went directly to the reading venue. With 12 readers the time was well spent. In deference to our returning friends, the first four readings were set aside for them.
Sue Haley brought a tribute to our poets and their poetry. Written a while back, she read a piece dedicated to Jim Kelly, Don Westerfield, and our other poets. Her observation, "Poetry lingers in every person," and a question, "Can poetry heal the world?" elicit food for thought. Sue, you are a poet of life.
After Sue's tribute, Jim Kelly surprised us with a piece somewhat out of character for him. A humorous poem entitled, John Wayne Bobbitt. Humor is not unique to Jim's work, but a reference to an incident as controversial as the Bobbitt emasculation is. Jim's mastery of words and tasteful treatment of the subject brought chuckles, even raucous laughter, to our evening. Great work Jim!
When George Mindling read a transcript of a cassette tape documenting a conversation between his daughter Monica and Shirley MacLaine. Unfazed by the prospect of talking with a Hollywood icon, Monica posed questions and comments causing even Ms. MacLaine pause.
As Peter Frickel came before the group, he posed the questions, "How do I write?" and "When do I write?" His presentation was, as always, instructional and inspiring. His suggestions for those writing memoirs are right on point. "Over time, a writer grows as he writes, ideas come from the past. Think small, don't rummage around in your memory for huge events. Leave your expectations at home, take it as it comes. Readers connect with human feelings, not whining. It's better to write for one person, yourself, than trying to please everyone."
In a scene from his novel featuring the life of Roman Emperor Constantine, Ernie Ovitz asks, has the emperor taken his wife for political reasons? Will her son, lying ill in the palace, die from lack of treatment? We'll have to tune in next time to find out.
Bringing three poems to us this week, Don Westerfield shows us how to relax on the high seas with, "Cruising." In "Ordinary Man," he depicts a man choosing to remain ordinary until death rather than become famous. "But Then You Were Gone," was a somber look at life with an undertone of the beauty one can see in others.
When Ed Ellis read his work entitled "Natural Behavior Laws - the Law of Consistency" he said he would watch for "glazed eyes in the audience." As he explained how consistency is the "on-ramp" to success, he asked, "Are you a jackhammer or a seagull?" and "Who can change?" There were no glazed eyes in the assembly and the discussion following his presentation gave proof to the interest in the subject. Join us on March 6th for Ed's presentation, "ABSTRACTIONS, the Bloodstream of the Writer."
Back from the wilds of Long Island, Lois Stern asked for opinions on the back-cover-blurb for her newest project, Pearl, a compilation of stories about exceptional children and their contribution to society. What she'd written was exceptional on its own and needed little, if any, change.
Even in a group this small, we have two authors named Jim Kelly, although the second Jim Kelly is writing a historical novel about General Winfield Scott Hancock rather than poetry, he is a gifted writer. Reading a piece of chapter 6, he took us to a party where the dashing, then Lieutenant Hancock, meets and is smitten by a charming young lady, Elmira Russell. Will this lead to something? well, I guess we'll just have to wait. Doesn't that make you want to read the next chapter?
Debbie MacAvoy brought us an interesting chapter from the "The Manipulator." The farmhouse in which Teddy lives experiences a death. A woman, whom Teddy was unaware even lived there, dies and the undertaker comes to pick up the body. Who was she? Where did she live? Teddy must know. When the house is empty, he begins an exploration, after all, his family is buying the farm and has a right to know about what went on there. All is quiet, but he can hear a creak on the stairs...
Writing is not as easy as some might think. It is especially difficult for someone who's lost their memory and all their faculties for a long time. Peter McNally had several massive strokes, suffered seizures, and brain damage which took away his ability to speak, remember, or function in ways we take for granted every day. On the road to recovery nearly twenty years later, he is writing his story. The writing is therapeutic as well as revealing, we are trying to aid him with editing, advice, and encouragement. His story is unique, spellbinding, and important. Reading the rewrite of his opening chapter shows how much improvement he's made since first joining the group. Hang in there Peter, we're in this for the duration.
Rod Digruttolo read a short piece in which he is attempting to depict the feelings and actions of a man whose 12-year-old daughter has been kidnapped. The police may have located the building in which the girl is being held and he awaits news. The group's comments were most helpful and by incorporating the suggestions into the piece, we know it will be a better piece.
The evening ended right on time, even though many of us could have continued for much longer, we adjourned. We look forward to the next meeting, February 6th, same time, same place. Until then KEEP ON WRITING.
Schedule and Location
Welcome to the Sarasota Writers Group Blog. Meetings are held the first and third Wednesday of the month at the Nokomis Fire Station, located just a few blocks south of Albee Road (where Matthews-Currie Ford is located) at Pavonia Road. We are on the west, or bay side, of U.S. 41, by the Fire Station's flashing yellow caution traffic light. If you are coming from the south on US 41, we are just north of Dona Bay. Turn on Pavonia and pull to the far end, or west side, of the firehall. Please do not block the fire doors! We meet in the training room on the far side of the complex. Gathering time: 6:00 pm Meeting called to order: 6:30 pm Ten minute break: 7:50 pm Meeting Finishes at 9:00 pm