Monday, 27 May 2013

“Summer is a Promissory Note Signed in June ……

….. its long days spent and gone before you know it, and due to be repaid next January”; this quote, from the America journalist and author Hal Borland (famous for his ‘outdoor editorials’) sets us up for a group jaunt to La Mata Parque Natural.
As many of you may remember, earlier in the year Maureen suggested we might like to take a tour of the park. The members present on that day thought this a lovely idea so Maureen kindly discussed it with the Park people and has come up with a date – 7th June – for the event.
In case you have been away, and would like to come, herewith details.
We will meet up at 11:00 on Friday 7th June at the Centre – a renovated white house at the top of the car park just off the N332 at La Mata – where we will be treated to a talk and slideshow about the park and it history etc. This should take about half-an-hour; then we depart on a guided walk that will cover the wine route, bird island and the picnic area. Maureen promises that the walk is a very easy one and recommends bringing binoculars if you have them to get the best out of a great birding opportunity!
If some would prefer just to see the presentation, foregoing the walk, there are several places to get a good cup of coffee in the main square at La Mata which is accessed by an underpass by the N332 and a short walk down to the sea.
It would be helpful if people let Maureen know if they will be there on the day – she needs to co-ordinate the Park Volunteers etc so please either email Maureen or me (details on member list) by the end of the month if you are not going to be at writers in the meantime.
There will be no cost, unless people would like to get together for lunch afterwards. Maureen suggests the Felisa restaurant on the boardwalk as it's easy to find and park. Look forward to seeing you there. 

Monday, 6 May 2013

Two Websites to Look At

On 3rd May I introduced details of The 33rd Winchester Writers’ Conference, Festival and Bookfair.
This gives details of 17 different competitions but the closing date is very soon – on Friday 24th May.
This is their web site

CINNAMON PRESS is certainly worth a very good look. Apart from details of forthcoming competitions there are some very good items there. You should find some excellent reading in their short stories. You can find them on


How long or short a ‘short story’ needs to be will vary depending upon the competition. The same will also apply to ‘Flash Fiction’ which can be only an absolute bare minimum of words.  Some time ago I investigated an American website and these were their rules;

Fifty –five words or less
A setting
One or more characters
Some conflict
A resolution

The title is not included in the word count but no longer than seven words.  

Saturday, 4 May 2013

Another Poem from last year's Poetic Republic winners.

Memories of Mum and Dad

Where are they now, these people who loved me?

One of them is dead and the other might as well be.

He died early and she’s waiting for the devil to ring her.

I don’t think of them often, but these memories linger.

Six foot five, full of Guinness and fight.

Five foot four, full of vinegar and spite.

Belligerent bully with fists of iron.

Constant critic without a shoulder to cry on.

These things were normal to a six year old boy.

Long distance Dad on jobs shifting steel.

Driving his Volvo, almost asleep on the wheel.

Missing Mum on part-time shifts at the local.

Tending drunks on her own, getting angry and vocal.

These things were normal to an eight year old boy.

Gatling gun volleys of verbal violence

Prolonged periods of insidious silence.

Repeated outbursts of furious feuding.

Ensuing intervals of black-hearted brooding.

These things were normal to a ten year old boy.

Acid accusations of adulterous assignations.

Desperate denials of flirtatious fascinations.

Rushed relocation of besotted betrayer.

Lust fuelled lies of a selfish strayer.

These things were normal to a twelve year old boy.

Countless beatings with his belts or their buckles.

Pointless arguments resolved with a slap or his knuckles.

Her off the scene, set up home with her lover.

Divide up the kids setting brother against brother.

These things were normal for a fourteen year old boy.

Staying out of the house to miss the projected rage.

Stand up for yourself, you’re a man at this stage.

Never show your fear, put away your emotion.

You’re not welcome here, find a place of your own son.

These things were normal to a sixteen year old boy.

Where are they now, these people who loved me?

One of them is dead and the other one should be.

I planned their deaths so many times in my mind.

Putting them out of my misery, to myself I’d be kind.

These thoughts are normal for a fifty year old boy.

Rob J Mann

A runner up in the 2012 Poetic Republic poetry competition.


Waving not drowning

At last week’s meeting, we briefly touched on Sylvia Plath.  We all seemed to be in agreement that she wrote ‘Not Waving but Drowning.’  I did have a little niggle, so I wanted to check.  I googled it and It was Stevie Smith who wrote it.

 I know Sylvia Plath was an admirer of Stevie Smith; they may have met at some time.  One of Sylvia Plath’s famous quotes was ‘I’m not waving, I’m drowning’ which she did tribute to Stevie Smith.
I think we all get confused because the literary critics used the quote when looking at events leading up to Sylvia Plath’s suicide.
Whilst I was googling, I came across another one of her quotes. ‘Nothing stinks like a pile of unpublished writing.’  That’s the smell in my house then!
Here's the Poem

Waving not Drowning

Nobody heard him, the dead man,

But still he lay moaning:

I was much further out than you thought

And not waving but drowning.


Poor chap, he always loved larking

And now he's dead

It must have been too cold for him his heart gave way,

They said.

Oh, no no no, it was too cold always

(Still the dead one lay moaning)

I was much too far out all my life

And not waving but drowning.

Stevie Smith