September saw the five year anniversary of my writer’s group, Roath Writers. I am still in awe of how the group has grown into its own kind, enthusiastic, thoughtful and creative community. My dream of carving out a small space to talk poems and write with new people has been so far exceeded I wonder if I am actually dreaming. Our Facebook group now has well over 200 members and individual meetings boast 20 people or more. I am still not sure quite how this happened, but I do know that I am grateful to have this group in my life.
To celebrate this togetherness and the success of Roath Writers, I hosted a five year anniversary party at The Gate a few weeks ago. The evening was full of readings, books, laughter and more. I also brought prizes to celebrate some wonderful people, including Emma Varney, Mat Troy, Rachel Dawson, Rachel Carney and Fran Smith who helped out with the anthology and its launch this year; Bryan Marshall who has guest facilitated a record number of meetings; and Simon L. Read who has attended more sessions than anyone else and who has designed four of our awesome anthology covers.
Simon has also done a better job at speaking about the group and its impact than I have ever done so I’d like to include his piece about his Roath Writers’ experience below. This, as well as poetry, prose, interviews, art and more can be found in our anniversary anthology.
Thank you to everyone who contributed to the anthology and who celebrated with us on the night. And, thank you to Julie Primon and Richard Axtell who took some excellent photos and headed up the book stall for the launch.
Here’s to another five years of Roath Writers!
The RW Collective
‘Hi. My name is Simon and this week…’
We start every Roath Writers meeting this way. Introducing ourselves and saying a little something about who we are or what we’ve been up to. It doesn’t matter who’s leading the session or how many times you’ve been. We introduce ourselves so we can let newcomers know who we are (or as a reminder to regular visitors who are rubbish with names), to welcome said newcomers, and to add a little bit of personality to our respective names.
I knew Christina Thatcher – the Head Honcho of Roath Writers – from a previous writing group in this weird little city of ours. When she told me she was starting a new writing group, naturally, I came along to check it out. Since, I’ve been to almost every Roath Writers meeting in its five year history. I’ve been to more than anybody else! When Roath Writers began, back in 2012, I had started, in the same month, my English and Creative Writing BA (Hons) degree at Cardiff Metropolitan University. If writing stories and poems was my passion, the university provided my formal literary training, and Roath Writers acted as a literary gym. It helped sharpen my writing in the throes of completing my BA, and continued to keep my creative brain active throughout my MA too. I speak for myself, but I know it has done the same for countless others. Why do I keep coming back now I’ve finished my university studies? Well, even pro-athletes still need to work out.
At a typical Roath Writers meeting we critically analyse (or learn to critically analyse) a piece of text, usually a poem. We talk about it as a group. Even if one has nothing to add, there’s still much to learn from how others interpret any given piece. After this, we write our own pieces for about twenty minutes before reading them out to the group, if we so choose to. Of course, we’re all of the understanding we’re not presenting our most polished pieces of work. Often, I cringe when I think back to some of the things I’ve read out. It is, however, great practice, and has sparked ideas I’ve then worked on in my spare time.
My favourite thing about the group is socialising and meeting new writers. We go to the local pub afterwards for a few drinks and have been known to stay out into the early hours. We also have occasional nights out which, from what I recall, are fun ol’ times. It brings the group together as friends with a shared passion. There’s no pressure on anybody to drink alcohol though, so it would be nice to see more people joining us, even if it’s only for a natter over a glass of water. It’s good to be social.
Roath Writers has an excellent bunch of writers, from a variety of backgrounds, each with their own creative style and quirks. We don’t scald people for writing in a style we don’t appreciate and we welcome experimentation. It’s kinda like a training area, a sandbox, where we can, writers amongst writers, beginner, published, and anything in-between, try out new things with no fear of being labelled a bad writer. This is why I keep coming back. I have a lot of time for the Roath Writers collective. They are why I was inspired to write this, why I submitted pieces to this anthology, why I designed the cover (despite it not being anywhere near how good I wanted it to be, due to Photoshop giving up on me and my seven year old laptop barely working). I’d love to collaborate with the good people of Roath Writers on projects or even provide creative advice as payback for the things I learn from them, but never mention. I’ve met a heap of awesome people through this group: friends, lovers, colleagues, strangers, regulars, distant memories… and I’m sure there’ll be many more new people to create stories with in the coming years.
So I end with this. We build this community together, not only in the meetings, but by getting to know one another. The more you put into Roath Writers, the more you get out. Here’s to us and the future of this group.
Simon L. Read