Welcome to my interview with Ed Woods, from The Tower Poetry Society.
Hello Ed, can you tell us a bit about your writing group please?
Our group is named The Tower Poetry Society and is the oldest established writers group in Canada and the second oldest in North America. While our 61st year as a writers group may pale to international standards where countries have thousands of years of history this is quite an achievement. We have chosen the Westdale Library, in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, to meet on the second Saturday of each month from September to May as our fiscal year and the workshops run for two hours, 14:00-16:00.
How many members, on average, does your group have?
We have 60 members this year which is a high number compared to others years. In order to join any of our venues a person does not have to be a member and is open to the public.
What is your role within the group?
I am involved as the Circulation Manger for our group and keep track of subscriptions and mailing services.
How are your sessions structured?
Our workshops offer the public to bring a selection of their creative writing of poetry or prose and read it aloud and then people in attendance offer positive comments of how this was interpreted or could be better presented. After comments the writer can explain the poem and its inspiration or source. This is a positive environment with writers from all walks of life and backgrounds.
What types of things do you cover in your group?
We cover styles of writing and nurture people to become interested in creative writing and submit poetry for publishing.
Do you have guest speakers at your group? If yes, who have you had and what have they spoken about? If no, why not, and is it something you would consider in the future?
We have a yearly Poet Study or a gust speaker upon a particular style of writing and our guests are listed within our website.
Do members of the group get a chance to run/lead a session or part of a session?
Yes as we periodically hold a discussion or poetry feature after a workshop.
What have been some of your most popular/successful activities?
Workshops open to the public, publishing a book twice per year which contains submissions from worldwide writers. There a yearly Poet Study to give insight to a style or particular writer. We attend book fairs and venues to sell our books of poetry and offer subscriptions and membership should a person so desire while at the same time to spread the word of interest in creative writing.
What genres do the members of your group write? Is there a lot of diversity with regards to your members’ writing?
There is a definite diversity of writing styles and it is based upon the skills and experience of those who choose to attend a workshop or submit poetry for publication in our books. Since we have no formal criteria of attendance or membership we have the privilege of quite a diverse base of interest and skills from a novice to those with Masters Degree in Literature. Our group consists of professors, teachers, theatre directors, transport truck drivers, pilots, sales staff, social service staff, emergency workers, homemakers, and the list is endless of those who submit their poetry for publication.
Have you ever written collectively as a group, such as producing an anthology?
We have two anthologies produced from members writing to celebrate our 50th and then 60th anniversary. The poems were selected from new and published writing for the 50th edition and then for our 60th anniversary edition poems were chosen from those in our books from the last ten years in between.
What kind of support does your writing group provide for its writers?
We are a non-profit charity and do not have funds to support our writers but offer workshop venues and studies to help improve or better understand creative writing.
Where do you get your ideas/writing prompts for the group from?
We collectively offer suggestions of a topic for discussion after the workshop and through Poetry Readings we take the public feedback to heart and see if there is a new or different style of creative writing to promote.
What is the best piece of writing advice you’ve been given?
To shorten my line structure to better focus upon points of interest or the point I am trying to convey.
What is the best piece of writing advice you give?
To write from your heart as you would speak and not try to become a Shakespeare or other famous writer copycat as it will show through. The second point in this mix is to not worry about rejection of submissions to any magazine or venue as this will consume a writer with a negative outlook about their style or content. Be natural and hold to your style and let the words flow onto a page.
Does your writing group have a website/blog/twitter/facebook?
How would someone go about joining your writing group?
The best information is contained in our website display where we offer membership, subscriptions, and the address to send poetry submissions or purchase single copies of our editions. All of our programs and venues are completely open to the public and free of any charge and do not depend upon whether a person has taken out a subscription or membership.
Thank you very much Ed.