Present: Cathy, Liz, Sarah SH, Sarah DD (chair), Amanda, Heather, Ramzan, Alan, Peter (minutes).

Apologies: Trish, Dermot, Amanda, Greg


Heather was heard by Hilary and others on Radio 2’s Johnnie Walker show.  Heather read her poem ‘A Carer’s Prayer’ as part of a feature in Carers’ Week.  We heard that Johnnie Walker had a photograph taken of the two of them, for his celebrity album.

Those lucky enough to have seen Goodnight Mr Tom at the Rhoda McGaw theatre reported to those less privileged how excellent Greg had been in the lead role.


Sarah SH gave us another of what we have come to expect, a well-crafted story.  In this one, a conscientious mother averts the concerns of her son and successfully entertains the young man’s prospective parents-in-law with the help of the unexpected qualities of a souperman (yes, souperman) she found in the garden.  The group found little wrong with the story but did make helpful comments before being cut off savagely by the chair.

Sarah DD continued her quest to find the missing sonnet, the one in which the muse has a life beyond the bard’s imagination.  Moonlight was in its evening gown and all was peaceful in the Strollers.  The sonnet now has a full complement of verses and couplet and contains some pleasing imagery.  However, the muse is still searching for her identity.  We look forward to further development.  Sarah’s second offering of the evening was an amusing and complete poem that forced us to see a discarded dishwasher with some humanity.

Cathy dipped into her adolescence to make her fictitious story of a girl’s crush on a teacher sound authentic.  She did not disappoint and conjured up some original lines.  Several members were taken with: “The country was split 52% Blur, 48% Oasis.”  This story was particularly enjoyed by the ladies present, all of who seemed to have similar memories.  They particularly liked the fact that the crush endured for 20 years before eventual fulfillment.

Heather also drew on experience, in this case made poignant by enabling her to empathise with an elderly couple navigating their last shared moments.  She gave us a beautiful, vividly descriptive poem with a dialogue in which they declare their love, as they have done throughout their marriage, despite declining faculties.

Peter cobbled together a poem on the homework theme, grief.  This had a reasonably good opening and a satisfactory ending but needs pruning and sharpening.  Commentators suggested it was worth working on.

Hilary brought us two pieces: a haiku on grief and a story in which grief is met with pragmatism. Just to remind us, a haiku is a traditional Japanese poetic form, too inscrutable for some but poetically simple, intense and direct for others.  It has three lines and 17 syllables in counts 5/ 7/ 5 and, I understand, should contain images of nature.  However, poets frequently feel free to bend the rules a little. Hilary’s haiku seemed to qualify.  Nature is reflected in a still life.  We wondered whether it should have been “pair” or “pear”.  Either would work. Hilary’s story was part of a longer piece but was satisfying in itself.  It questioned the nature of grief in loss and showed how even a long comfortable, or at least workable, relationship could run its course in such a way that there was no real need for grief.  There was, however, a need for time to allow the departed to leave completely and for the widow to adjust to her new independence.  All very satisfying for our lady writers but, perhaps, left some of the more sensitive men wondering whether they would be missed.

Carla shared her poem ‘Good Friday’.  Is it a sonnet?  Is it free verse? It’s a super poem, with a satisfying rhythm.  In just 14 lines, Carla hints at philosophy of life, theory of religion and the nature of friendship.  Beautiful.

Alan, droll but not dull.  An observer of sibling rivalries resurrected at their mother’s funeral.  Tony is a waster, a professional victim, a sponger.  His sisters are conscientious and successful and have no time for their sponging brother.  Far from admiring their controlled, orderly lives, we are encouraged to see Tony’s optimism as the greater virtue.  It might just come right for Tony in the end? It might not.  Well, that’s life.

Liz, perhaps coming to terms with her recent loss, was unusually pragmatic as she considered the absence of grief in the intensity she might have expected.  She enabled us to see death as a natural conclusion to life and a chance to move on.  More thoughtful than disrespectful.  Liz’s story reminds us how we can so easily ignore the inevitability of death and be met with surprise and shock when it confronts it.  Don’t let Death get away with it, seemed to be Liz’s message.

Ramzan, in just a single page of prose, reminded us how profoundly life has changed in one lifetime.  Perhaps it was simpler and easier to cope with when schoolboys were beaten for their own good and teachers took a little revenge for their unhappy lot.  We were taught that hard work and ascetic discipline would get us virtuously through a life of toil.  Ramzan enabled us to see beyond mere existence and behold the beauty of life, just life – when the sun comes up and the birds sing.


Next time:

Chair – Peter

Minutes – Heather

Biscuits and milk – Ramzan

Wine – Cathy


Sarah DD set the topic for this month – Take Me Please.