Saturday, February 5, 2011

Boyne Writers Group AGM

Extracts from the Chairman, Paddy Smith’s Address to the AGM of Boyne Writers, 3rd February, 2011.

We have a nice little group here and I’m proud to be chairman of it.

Among other things, I’m fascinated by the dynamics of our group – comprising people who by definition are very individualistic and wouldn’t be expected to be ‘group’ people.

I’m struck by the respectful manner in which we criticise each other’s works. Not easy to walk that thin line. I think we all abide by the practice, as someone said in relation to criticism: never use a knife to cut when you can use a spoon.
Arab proverb: Insults should be written in the sand, and praises carved in stone. And if I ever get a word of praise in this group, I look forward to carving it in stone!
Some more apt quotations:
Norman Vincent Peale: The trouble with most of us is that we would rather be ruined by praise than saved by criticism.
Noel Coward: I love criticism just so long as it's unqualified praise.

Looking back at the year, the most remarkable development in this group has been the emergence and growth of so many writers of prose. At any given meeting, the prose writers match the poets in numbers if they don’t outnumber them. This in itself is worth remarking on. Within this category we have also seen the emergence and development of writers of memoir. And I think it’s fair to say that the work of these people has grown in quality as well as quantity over the year.

Having said all that, the poets continue to be the thoroughbreds of the group. And this is borne out by the rosettes of various colours that they have won during the year. Congratulations to all.

I think we’re learning from each other, in better writing of course, but not least in the method of criticism, and it’s great to see the performance of the different members in their criticisms of other people’s works. On the other hand, we would like to continue to stamp out the practice of members apologising for their work in advance, before they’ve even read it. Out with that sort of thing! Out! Out! Out! On the other hand, it’s always interesting to hear a member’s own thoughts on his or her work – after it has been read and after it has been criticised by others. A member’s own thoughts often bring an entirely new dimension to the piece of work.

Hopefully in this coming year we can win back the Battle of the Books trophy from our arch friends, the Meath Writers Circle.

In conclusion, to all members, I wish the writing equivalent of ‘tight lines’ in fishing – which I presume is ‘loose, free-flowing lines’ or something. And, in particular, to our poets, I say: keep it up, this could be the year.

Picture above: The new officers of the group, Barbara, Michael, Orla and Paddy.

1 comment:

Orla Fay said...

Well done Paddy, and nice blog Michael!