Wednesday, 14 October 2015 14:28

Writers group hosting a reading in Swift Current Oct. 22

Written by  Matthew Liebenberg
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Members of the Prairie Quills Writers Group will be sharing their work with the public during a reading at the Swift Current Branch Library Oct. 22.

The theme of this year’s reading is Constellations in the Valley and 10 members of the group will present original pieces that reflect their interpretation of this topic.
William Gibbs suggested this theme during one of the group meetings. It reflects a metaphor from one of his poems.
“I wrote a poem a long time ago and it describes the drive at night time,” he recalled. “Imagine yourself kind of being above what you see and you see these little places where there are lots of lights and it looks like a whole bunch of constellations.”
It is a vision that will be familiar to anyone who has driven towards Swift Current from the north, when the lights of the city suddenly appears in a distance.
“It’s that idea of looking down on these towns at night where they all have different formations made by the lights,” he said. “So they can be a metaphor for constellations when we look up at the sky.”
The members of the writers group are free to interpret this theme in different ways, and the reading will be an opportunity to hear what they have done.
“In my story I’m using a bit of a different interpretation of it,” he said. “I was inspired by people living on the streets. ... We have these two worlds living together and it can be interpreted as two constellations that are operating within our cities and very disconnected from one another.”
The Prairie Quills is an active group of writers. They produce an anthology every second year and in the off year they have a reading at the library.
“I think it’s stimulating for us,” Anthea Loran said. “In our meetings we often have exercises and we’re given something to write about. It helps us in our writing to focus on something we maybe haven’t thought of before.”
She is a long-time member of the group. She considers the reading to be a way for the writers to give back to the community.
“Whatever I’m involved in I like to do that, whether it’s music or gardening or writing or painting,” she said. “I like to give back some of that by helping people develop their own ideas and I think this is good for us too to speak out in public. The presentation is very good for people, to read aloud in public and be comfortable with that.”
Her piece for the reading will be about Swift Current, but it will provide a different perspective on the idea of a constellation.
“It’s about the people of Swift Current more, how Swift Current came to be, how it evolved, how Swift Current evolved as a city,” she said.
Irene Bingham, who is the current president of the Prairie Quills Writers Group, has written two pieces for the reading. The first one, One More Night, is about medical trips with their son. The second, On a Distant Shore, reflects on the refugee crisis and the people who are fleeing from the war in Syria.
“I have actually stepped out of my real comfort zone and I’m doing blank verse, which I have never done,” she said.
Blank verse is a form of poetry that does not rely on rhyme. She used blank verse during a writing exercise and discovered its potential.
“We had one exercise during the year that one of the members had brought to us and I ended up doing a blank verse for that part,” she said. “Then I started writing and things weren’t going, so I just started writing randomly and realized that maybe it was better to go blank verse than to try to tell a story.”
It is a real departure from her previous short stories that are usually related to farm or rural life.
“Cowboy country is basically where I started and I have grown away from that through the writing group,” she said. “Your writing grows stronger and you can say things better when you’re with the group and learning from the exercises that they have. You develop different structure.”
Tina-Marie Letwiniuk is a new member of the Prairie Quills Writers Group. She decided to join after attending a group meeting in April.
“It was wonderful,” she said. “I was totally accepted as a writer, not as a wannabe.”
She was pleasantly surprised that the meeting included time for writing exercises and she was impressed by the commitment of members to improve their writing skills.
“Even though some of these ladies and men have been writing for years and years and years, they still do exercises that help to improve themselves,” she said. “For me that was something brand new and I just really benefitted from those exercises from just only one meeting.”
She is looking forward to reading a poem at the upcoming event. She was inspired to write the poem while driving in the countryside on a clear winter day.
“Back in January I just felt a real strong urge to go for a drive out in the country,” she said. “I spent an hour just staring at the sky and my surroundings because I was in the middle of nowhere. When I was trying to go home, I had to pull over because I was just hit with this inspiration to put down what I had just experienced.”
She felt the poem will be suitable for the event when she heard what the theme of the reading will be.
“I thought if I’m going to do this, I’m just going to kind of jump in cannonball style and embrace everything I can from the group and what they offer,” she said. “So I’m going to read my poem and I’m tweaking it a little bit because it was very raw.”
The Oct. 22 reading event at the Swift Current Branch Library will take place from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. In addition to the readings by members of the Prairie Quills Writers Group there will be musical entertainment by local musician Becky Neustater.
She will perform for 15 minutes before the start of proceedings and also during an intermission.
There will be a book table where Prairie Quills members will have their books for sale. Refreshments will be provided and the event is free of charge.

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