CITY VOICES - A POTTED HISTORY AND PERSONAL MEMORY (from the Blog Editor)
City Voices Creative Writers Group was founded by Paul Williamson, and started life 10 years ago as Hanley Writers, with just Paul and the current chair Alan Barnett. They met in Hanley Library as a drop in group for writers of all persuasions and abilities. Slowly, slowly would-be writers trickled in and the group built up. In 2007 City Voices was formed, a written constitution drafted and a committee and treasurer elected.
When I came to City Voices in 2012 the group was upwards of 30 members with a committee of 8 people! I had a very warm welcome. Shortly after, two of the committee resigned for personal reasons, and myself and another new member (Anita Oxford) joined the committee to act as secretaries. If only we’d known! Along with writers, there were musicians in the group and at one point a City Voices choir was considered! The group also staged festivals to raise money for charity and organised trips out for the members which inspired people to write. In addition there were outreach events. Meetings were every 2 weeks (most writer’s groups meet once a month, but City Voices were different!) comprising workshops, “showcasing” member’s work and organise read-arounds, interspersed with guest speakers and quarterly competitions.
However, times they were a-changing and the Internet and social media were playing a big part in most people’s lives. A professional web-site was becoming a must for writer's groups. In March 2014 the City Voices Web-site www.cityvoicesstoke.org.uk was launched. The group had a very busy year with its own music and words Festival, acting as "Pit Poets" at Apedale Open Day, plus various outreach events. City Voices were also involved in the very first Stoke Literary Festival. 2014 also saw a year of change in the group and the committee, yet somehow it was business as usual! In 2015 a "plan B" was conceived when it seemed City Voices might lose the use of rooms at the library. Happily this didn’t happen; the group kept their fortnightly meetings, whilst festivals and most outreaches were put on hold for a year to concentrate on writing creatively. The group produced an Anthology of poetry “Landscape of Fire” which sold well enough for a second run.
In 2016 City Voices started the year in great style with the production of the play “Heroes of Sneyd” written by our founder Paul Williamson and starring City Voices members, which in turn led to a movie shown at the Film Theatre Stoke. Earlier this year representatives from the group were presented to HRH Prince Charles following City Voices involvement with inter-generational events at Middleport Pottery. The last 18 months - 2 years have seen many changes in how the group is run, the use of social media to bring in new members, and arrivals and departures within the group. There is now an eclectic, creative fraternity of 19 new and long-standing members including several published and prize-winning writers, plus our patron Deborah McAndrew. Alan and Anita have built on relationships with Beanstalk Charity http://www.beanstalkcharity.org.uk/ and Middleport Pottery http://www.middleportpottery.org/ Outreach events are on the agenda once more. There is even a whisper of a festival in 2017 (runs screaming from the room) At the half way point in the year City Voices are in a very good place, and have played host to some wonderful guest speakers and writers workshops (organised by the committee) plus running internal workshops and competitions. Joint events with Hanley Library http://www.stoke.gov.uk/ have been set up to great success, and support garnered from Poetry on Loan. http://www.poetryonloan.org.uk
Our Facebook page and Twitter Account are up and running. A new anthology “Connections” is in the pipeline and of course we have our 10th anniversary celebrations to look forward to. All thanks to a guy called Paul Williamson – without you Paul we would not be here today!
City Voices remains committed to welcoming new writers of all genres, no matter what age, background and writing experience.