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TheFED Writing Festival

03 May 2012


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Report from GROW

GROW sent sixteen of our members to this amazing one-day event in London. A further six people came with us for a day trip to London to help us cover the cost of hiring the coach.

We left early on the 33 Seater Rambler Coach, which had been booked for us with the help of Bernard Weekes-Lock, from the Roosevelt Court Social Club, and a very generous grant of £225 from The Hastings Lion's Club

We arrived at Faraday House on time and we immediately went down to the Basement Lounge for refreshments and to meet the other attendees.  We each paid our own attendance fees, which were collected by Roy Birch from Stevenage Survivors.  We were then given our welcome packs, containing informaton about TheFED, The MiniFest, a notebook and a pen.

Lynne Clayton welcomed us and explained where we had to go to sign up for the workshops.  I chose to go to Lynne's discussion workshop about the future development of TheFED.  (See my notes attached below)

After this workshop we had another refreshment break before going into the general meeting in the Auditorium.  During this meeting we elected a committee, adopted the Constitution and everyone was updated on the work TheFED has done so far.

After the meeting we went back to the lounge for a buffet lunch which had been prepared by Lucia Birch and her team of volunteers.

After lunch it was time for the afternoon workshop.  I ran one on using Internet Tools and Resources to publish and promote your writing online FOR FREE. By the end of the workshop I had 14 participants.

We then had another refreshment break before the celebratory readings and performances in the Auditorium.

We helped to clear up at the end of the perfomance and then we made our way back to the coach.  We arrived back in Hastings exhausted but having had a great day out. 

Those of us with cars made sure that everyone else got back home safely.


TheFED minifest - a reminiscence by Roy Birch

November 8.  The day of TheFED minifest.  Up at six-thirty.  Lucia, Pat and Sandra were already up.  Pat and Sandra had come down from Pecket Well the previous day.

Washed, dressed, breakfasted lightly, loaded the car with help from Sandra.  After a few false starts we succeeded in all being in the car at the same time.  Picked up Geoff, a Fed debutante and the third member of the Vale House Project workshop team (the other members being Lucia and myself) then headed for the Friends Meeting House and our rendezvous with the rest of the party - fourteen souls and the Viewpoint minibus.

Our boot was full to repletion with simple but magnificent foodstuffs for the Minifest, which meant the car itself was awash with people and luggage.  We loaded some of the foodstuffs into the minibus, which enabled us to empty the car of all but essential items of  luggage, thus rendering our journey to London at least potentially less traumatic.  In the event the journey was barely traumatic at all. In addition to an excellent driver (Andy) the minibus possessed a semi-intelligent SatNav and a highly intelligent communicator (Simon), whose text messages to Lucia enabled us to anticipate difficulties and direction changes so comfortably that the journey was rendered almost  commonplace, and we arrived at Faraday House (the London campus of Syracuse University, who were hosting the event) with nothing more problematical to report than an initial overshoot which necessitated our circling back around the One-way system before landing exactly where we wanted to be.  

We checked in, unloaded the vehicles, unlocked the kitchen, made it feel wanted by the simple expedient of filling its innards with foodstuffs, got the Tea Urn on the boil, greeted those revellers already ensconced, and, with their help, set the wheels in motion for what was to be a truly wonderful day.   It was essential to conduct a head count, to ascertain who was on site and who was not, and to collect such monies as were owed.  A task I allotted myself and which proved in no wise difficult and not a little enjoyable.  During this period Ashley arrived from Hastings, accompanied by members of her new group GROW (Grass Roots Open Writers) and a crate of information packs, an item probably second only to food as an essential component of a successful Fest. 

The packs were passed out and then the wonderful Lynne Clayton, scion of a lineage of Pure Blood Town Criers, called us to order, welcomed everyone, explained the rules of engagement, and sent us off to our morning workshops.  I attended Lynne's workshop 'Re-building The Fed,' - a discussion of the best way forward for an organization which was still effectively little more than a group of friends meeting annually to celebrate their friendship and their creativity.  A laudable undertaking, but not something funding agencies are keen to give money to in difficult financial times.  

The session was well attended, the discussion fruitful. Dave Chambers, a true Fed stalwart, brought that most essential of working tools for any new organization - a constitution.  Among the several things decided at the session was the intention to ratify the constitution at the AGM.      Although I was sadly unable to attend any of the other workshops, I am happily able to state, via reports I received, that they were all of  the enjoyably high standard expected of Fed workshops.  The only sad note being that Ken Baldwin's 'Three ways to beat Writer's Block' did not materialize.  Let us hope Ken is well.  

Following refreshments and networking the AGM ratified the constitution and created a working committee which has agreed to meet at Pecket Well College in March of next year.  Lunch was then served, after which the afternoon workshops commenced.  As I was involved in the delivery of one of them I was again unable to attend any of the others, but the reports I received confirmed what I already knew would be the truth - they were all excellent.

Again sadly, the Helena Wojtczak workshop 'How to publish your own book' did not happen.  Let us hope she too is well.    More refreshments and further networking was followed by the highpoint of any large Fed gathering - the Celebratory Reading.

Fifty-five Fedders attended the Minifest.

The bulk of us now formed a seated circle in the Auditorium. Dave Chambers and I acted as MCs, randomly drawing readers' names out of a large cardboard box.  First up was Richard Copeland, a poet I have had the pleasure and privilege of working with over a number of years. It doesn't get any better than Dick Copeland, a poet and reader of immense ability. But somehow it did.  Each performer gave an impetus to the next and it just went on and on, wonder after wonder after wonder, concluding with George Tahta (aka Otis Orbison) and his beautifully nostalgic and erratic poem about Hughie Green and the sixties.  The spoken word was counter pointed by John and Maria's accompanied poem and three very different but equally powerful musical offerings; Lucia's gentle, beautiful and passionate 'Like Love,' Sharon's incredible unaccompanied version of 'Summertime,' and Roger Drury's unusual, funny and chilling sing-along number about the environmental dangers of the unbridled spread of fugitive plastic bags.  

At the conclusion of the Celebratory Reading a large team of spontaneous cleaning experts materialized from among the revellers and cleared the building of all traces of our occupation.  Within fifteen minutes the Minifest was finished, Faraday House was closed, and groups of people were saying their farewells out on the pavements of Old Gloucester Street.   

There was a small downside to the day, which consisted of a delay caused by the refusal of several taxi drivers to take one of the Minifest attendees as a passenger.  The delay meant that Pat, Sandra and Geoff were left hanging around while Lucia and I attempted to sort the problem out.  Which eventually happened.   By the time we finally started for home the minibus was long gone, which meant we were travelling somewhat blind.  But, as I said earlier, the minibus contained a semi-intelligent SatNav and a highly skilled communicator.  The minibus itself was bogged down in traffic in the Harringay area so Simon sent us by a different route, one which I was soon able to recognize and which enabled us to make sufficient progress to be able to pass the minibus on the A1M.  We arrived home at about 8.30 warmed by the glow of a job well and enjoyably done.   

An appeal for financial donations to help prop the organization up realized over £100.00.  A very large and heartfelt thank you to all who gave money to this appeal. With the addition of the admission payments I was able to collect £403.00, which Lucia has now banked.  

Thank you everyone who attended the event and made it such a memorable day.  Particular thanks to Ashley and Lucia for organizing it; to Dave Chambers for creating and presenting the constitution; and to Simon (of SatNav fame) for filming it all. 

I would like to conclude this piece with an offering from The Bread is Rising, a Brooklyn-based Poetry Collective with whom TheFed has close links.  They were unable to attend the Minifest and so sent this as a greeting and good wishes for the success of the event.

Greetings from The Bread is Rising Poetry Collective

Dear Lucia
As you requested, Carlos and I would like to share some words for the Saturday minifest in greetings from The Bread is Rising Poetry Collective. Because we have just survived the most hotly contested election we can ever remember, we can say that the next step is to do as we are doing with the Fed  - rebuilding our groups and organising our movements for real change. With that in mind, The Collective and our sister organisation (and Fed members) Precious Promise Arts Circle will continue to organise, organise, organise!  

s a mis hermanas y mis hermanos en Fed UK

On this beautiful day we will send you

a bucket of red roses
to embrace our affection and joy and friendship
each and every day
a poetic doo wop we will survive the cloudy winter
This a rose will always grow
even on the distant plane that unites us
Our dreams above our love of humanity
with a word song
of peace and not war on earth
between our marching for universal love
in exchange for a kiss is just a kiss
We shall see each other sooner or later
At the spirit of The Bread is Rising Poetry Collective
keeps on marching
un amor puro  

Copyright Carlos Raul Dufflar  

Fed 2008: The Resurrection Poem

May our days together be many

May our unity always be strong
Just like our songs
May the peace for which we have so long struggled
erupt in festivals of words
May we as sisters and brothers come always together in love
May our words refresh as the rain replenishes
And to speak of words
more profound than the size on the page can ever show
May we always remember the final word:

Copyright 2008 Angel L. Martinez



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