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Wednesday, 14 January 2015 16:50

Writers celebrate Swift Current’s past in new anthology

Written by  Matthew Liebenberg
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The celebration of Swift Current’s centennial as a city during 2014 was an inspiration for the latest anthology by the Prairie Quills Writers Group.


Nine members of the group contributed towards Reflections from the Creek, which has been available since November.
It is the fifth collection of short stories and poems produced by the group during the past 10 years.
Madelon Smid, who served as the editor for this anthology, is pleased with the end result.
“This one really shows the evolution of the group’s writing skills,” she said.
She noted eight of the contributors to this collection are already published authors.
“That was very exciting to me, and the quality of the writing has increased from the first book,” she said.
A key goal of the Prairie Quills Writers Group has always been to provide an avenue for members to hone their writing skills.
“When the group was formed, we mandated that you had to be actively writing to be a member of the group,” she said.
Monthly group meetings are therefore structured to support the creativity of members. They will talk about what they have been writing during the past month and they will have an opportunity to share their work with the group.
They can also gain useful advice from other members at these meetings, for example what to do when there is no response from a publication to a story submission.
“I think it really works in everybody’s favour,” she said about being a member of the group.
According to Smid, the new anthology also highlights the experience gained over the years from publishing a number of story collections and the production standards of this publication were high.
“We used this as an exercise in helping our members learn to submit and get work published,” she said. “So I set out timelines they had to meet and they just did an excellent job of that.”
The group selects a different theme for each anthology and this publication’s topic provided an opportunity to reflect on the history of Swift Current.
“I think that really stimulated the writers more,” she said. “Everybody could identify with it more and could instantly get an idea around how they would approach the subject.”
The authors use their stories to share their familiarity with the city and the prairie landscape with readers.
Smid noticed an ownership and love for certain aspects of life in the city.
“There was almost a warm, loving feeling around certain things that were mentioned over and over again,” she said. “The creek, people’s attitude towards that body of water and how it had affected their lives, and then the buildings and atmosphere of Swift Current that was as familiar to somebody that had driven in 40 years, 60 years ago, taking all day to get in from the country, to somebody that had come in 20 years ago and then somebody who would approach it on a contemporary level.”
This anthology can therefore be viewed as an interesting conversation between the authors and readers who have a similar familiarity with the city.
“They would identify in the same way and whether you’re an 80-year-old reading this or a 15-year-old reading this, they have some small piece of that experience now in their lives,” she said.
Norman Krell’s story reflects on the city of his youth, when a trip to Swift Current provided “... enough culinary glee and sensory delights to overload any young farm boy’s mind.”
Dianne Miller did extensive research about city life during 1930 for her story about the romantic encounter between a founding member of the Swift Current University Women’s Club and a handsome air force pilot.
Peggy Worrell’s story is set in contemporary Swift Current, when a man becomes obsessed with the familiar lone tree north of the city during his struggle to come to terms with a failed relationship.
Bill Gibbs, who was born and raised in Swift Current, recalls the start of a young boy’s passion for nature and the environment during long, lazy summer days of fishing along the creek.
Tekeyla Friday highlights the presence of First Nations and Métis sacred sites in the Swift Current area in her story about a fox spirit.
Joyce Olesen used her own childhood memories to reflect on rural life on a farm near the city and the ongoing attachment of the siblings to the land from their youth.
Madelon Smid’s story takes place during the 1960s, when a woman returns to Swift Current with memories about the pilot she met during the Second World War at the No. 39 Service Flying Training School that was located at the local airport.
Irene Bingham’s contribution recalls a family trip to Swift Current in December 1950, when children witnessed Santa’s flying reindeer racing down Central Avenue.
Long-time Swift Current resident Anthea Loran, who was born in England, writes about her experiences of living in this prairie city since December 1963.
Copies of this anthology are available for sale at the Swift Current Museum and Pharmasave.
For more information about the Prairie Quills Writers Group, visit the group’s blog at prairiequillswriters group88.wordpress.com.

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