Writers in West Berkshire and North Hampshire.
West Berkshire Writers was established following the closure of Newbury Arts Workshop. As the Creative Writing class had been a fundamental part of the Workshop, it was decided that this group, many of whom have won literary prizes, taken part in literary festivals, exhibited, broadcast and been published locally and nationally, should not be allowed to disband.
In its present form the group has grown by means of advertising in libraries throughout the region, in local newspapers and on the websites of Southern Arts, NDAA NewburyArts and West Berkshire Council.
Weekly meetings take various forms: activities include discussions, criticism of members’ work, collaborations with other local groups, monthly tutorials by the poet Duncan Forbes, and visits from guest speakers. Writers under discussion have ranged from Hardy, Heaney and Hughes to Thomas Wyatt, Franz Kafka and Lorenz Hart.
To date the group has benefited by visits from Booker Prize short-listed novelist, Anne Schlee, London-based novelist, the late Grace Ingoldby, popular novelists Mavis Cheek, Tania Crosse and Judith Cranswick, novelist and playwright Val Maskell, writer and broadcaster Nick Channer, award-winning poet Susan Utting, Wordsworth Trust poet in residence Helen Farish and Oxford poets Olivia Byard, and Fiona Sampson. The last mentioned poet was instrumental in introducing the Macedonian short story writer Aleksandar Prokopiev on his first reading tour of Britain.
In November 2000 a reading was organised at the Kennet & Avon Canal Stone Building in Newbury to celebrate the 70th birthday of John Fairfax, poet and co-founder of the Arvon Foundation. In October 2003 poetry and prose was provided for ‘Silk Cabaret’ by Paul Hyland and Helen Porter, at Wordfest, the literature festival of Basingstoke and Deane and Desmoulin Art Gallery in Newbury has been the venue for readings by Helen Farish, Duncan Forbes and the late Grace Ingoldby.
West Berkshire Writers remains the only local writers’ group continuing the Arts Workshop tradition of hosting regular guest speakers. Financial assistance has come from Millennium Awards for All by way of the Arts Council of England, the Working Arts Trust (Newbury) and Newbury Town Council enabling the group to continue a varied programme of events.
Meetings take place in the Kennet & Avon Canal Trust Stone Building, The Wharf, Newbury, at 7.45 p.m. most Wednesdays, they are open to all, irrespective of experience and age, and new members are welcome.
WordWatchers has been meeting monthly in Newbury, Berkshire, United Kingdom since May 2001. It was started by a group of people who had been attending a Creative Writing Class at Newbury College. We wanted to move on from weekly homework to more long-term projects.
The core of each meeting is a self-imposed target, and we report on our relative success each month. This helps us to focus on the progress of our own writing. We provide for each other a support group of other writers who are equally serious about writing, and our talk and comments are always honest and open. There’s a lot of humour too.
Each meeting has a theme. We read from our own or published work, or critique and discuss a particular piece of work by a member. We also discuss anything to do with writing, from initial inspiration to how to get published.
We vary from 6 to 12 members, and we all comfortably commit to the group and each other, because we share the same passion for writing, whatever form our own projects take. We run hotly-contested internal short story competitions twice a year, and get together occasionally with friends and partners and ex-members to celebrate and announce the winners.
We welcome writers who are serious about writing, whatever form that takes, from full-length novels in all genres, screenplays, travelogues, children’s books, local history and magazine articles.
Visit our website at www.wordwatchers.net. It contains more information about WordWatchers as well as samples of our work. We welcome enquiries and comments, whether you’re interested in joining, or just serious about writing, like us. We would especially welcome contact from publishers eager to rush our works into print.