Paul Williamson has recently e-mailed me to say that he and our Chair Alan Barnett were interviewed by a Sentinel journalist on Tuesday 13th December. The interview was around Paul's play "Heroes of Sneyd" (The Vigil) Paul was very pleased with what he describes as "A good interview. The journalist asked Paul what had inspired him to write 'Heroes of Sneyd'. Paul says "it was to remember miners who died in a Stoke-on-Trent pit disaster.
Fifty seven men and boys were killed in an explosion in Sneyd Colliery, in Burslem, on New Year's Day 1942. Official records at the time concluded that it was caused by a spark from loaded wagons igniting coal dust. This was war-time and miners were a reserved occupation - coal was essential for the war effort. " Paul was also able to explain to the Sentinel how City Voices members had performed the play at the Memorial Service at Holy Trinity Church, Burslem in early 2016 in memory of those who'd lost their lives, and the families who had held a vigil whilst the rescue operation took place. 'Heroes of Sneyd ' was filmed by Ray Johnson for his 'Staffordshire Film Archive. The New Year Memorial Service in memory of the miners this time around will take place at 'Holy trinity Church, Hamil Road, Burslem, on Sunday the 1st of January 2017
A photograph of our unsung hero Maria Barnett, who is not only married to our “gaffer” Alan (enough excitement for anyone) but has had a few up and downs this year – notably down when their crazy dog Harry pulled Maria off her feet and smack onto the tarmac. Ouch! was not the word. Well it wouldn’t have been my word anyway! Despite very nasty bruising and a broken nose, Maria painstaking typed out each and every poem that made up the City Voices anthology “Connections” for sending on to the printers. Some of the submissions were hand-written, spell-check was erratic, and altogether it was a big ask for anyone. Alan himself was not very well for a few weeks, so Maria was also nursing her husband and to top the lot they had builders in! The very least we could do was to send Maria this lovely bouquet of winter flowers. Maria says she was “gob-smacked” when the flowers arrived and sends this thank you
Thank you all so much for the surprise gift that I received this morning, it was totally unexpected and it was a lovely gesture from you all, thank you once again. A very merry Christmas and New Year to you all and have a great 2017. Love Maria xx
The group ended the year on a high note with a celebration meal at the Victoria Lounge in Hanley. Our guest was Jayne Birch, who kindly judges our quarterly poetry and short story competitions. A very few of the group could not make it – all for very good reasons, but we missed you – so I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas and New Year. The 2017 meeting dates are now on the web-site and I look forward to seeing everyone in the New Year.
It is fair to say that in many ways 2016 has been a tumultuous year at City voices, but then we are a group of creative people so maybe that's the way of it! There have been ups and downs and some radical changes in this our 10th anniversary year, but the "ups" have it! City Voices has emerged stronger, more creative and more positive than ever before. From this has risen a suitably diverse collection of poems on the theme of Connections. Our patron Deborah McAndew, actor, playwrite and Creative Director of Claybody Theatre has kindly written the following foreword.
Only connect! ….Only connect the prose and the passion, and both will be exalted, and human love will be seen at its height
This quote from Howard’s End by E M Forster rings out like a rallying cry across the century since it was first written. Connection is the keystone of all art forms, which chronicle the obvious links between people and people, people and things, people and places; and the more obscure connections – as if the artist has wandered down a half-hidden, long-forgotten pathway in their imagination to see where it leads.
The title of this collection of poems is as open as the human mind is capable of being, and the City Voices of Stoke on Trent have responded with a rich and eclectic offering of work. It is a terrific testament to the diversity of people and interests in the group. Enjoy.