Winchester Writers’ Conference news

Last weekend, I went to Winchester Writers’ Conference along with Beryl, Gail and Chris who all belong to Wimborne Writing Group. We met up on Saturday for lunch and dinner and had a great day. I received some useful advice from agents and an editor about my fiction and I hope to be doing more work on my novel over the summer!

On the Friday, I went to an inspiring workshop led by Lindsay Ashford on writing crime fiction. It was very interesting and also I started a new story! I got to know Lindsay last year as she is the editor of the ‘Wooing Mr Wickham’ anthology in which my story, ‘Blue Lias’, is published.

I was disappointed that Jackie Kay wasn’t able to come as I’d booked into her session and was looking forward to hearing her speak about poetry.

Gail won the ‘Slim Volume’ competition and can now look forward to having 60 copies of her work published. Congratulations, Gail!

I was delighted to receive 2nd prize for the poem I submitted to the competition. It was lovely to hear Phil Carradice, the judge, talk about my poem and read excerpts from it to the writers assembled in the Auditorium. That was a very nice way to finish my day at the conference.

Cattistock Poets Evening

I am a member of Cattistock Poets, a group led by Annie Freud, and last night we put on an evening of poetry at the Fox and Hounds pub in Cattistock. Annie organised things brilliantly. The guest readers were Rachael Boast and David Briggs, both from Bristol. They read some wonderful poems to us. I’m now reading Rachael’s lovely collection, ‘Sidereal’, published by Picador. (The title means – relating to the stars and their position in the sky). The poem, ‘Moonlight on the Dial of the Day’, especially stays in my memory. It’s set on a train (I love journey poems!) and widens to reflect on nature and love.

Members of Cattistock poets read some of their poems also. One poem that I read last night is ‘A Poem about Australia’ (plane journey poem). It was first published in ‘South’, issue 43.

A Poem about Australia

I can’t write a poem about Australia –
it needs a novel-sequence
or a symphony.
Flying over from the West,
seeing the dry, red earth beneath us,
in the blazing sunshine,
eating lunch, clearing up,
observing the well-built man trip over
as he exits the loo,
land on the woman blissfully asleep
in the front row, apologize, explain,
I read another chapter of my book,
about a child lost in a shopping mall,
and then watch a funny film, ‘Juno’,
about a teenage mother in America,
and I’m still flying over Australia.
I didn’t realise it was so enormous,
still rocky, uninhabited, dry.
Then, at last, one or two dwellings, a road,
a few smudges of green
as we soar towards Brisbane.

Sarah Barr

Winchester Writers’ Conference

I’ve received my pack for the Winchester Writers’ Conference and I’m looking forward to going there this coming weekend. I’ll be attending with several members of my Wimborne Writing Group and we are hoping to meet up at various times during Saturday. It’s usually a well attended, busy conference with excellent speakers and workshop leaders. The writing competitions are fun! In previous years I’ve won prizes for short stories and poems, also been short-listed and had commendations. This sort of recognition is encouraging and it is motivating. But I need to be careful not to spend all my time attending conferences and courses – it’s necessary to actually do some writing!

‘Writing is a struggle against silence.’
— Carlos Fuentes