Out of the inkwell and on to the page ...

Everyone I meet is envious of my writers’ group. I call it my group, but it was around long before I moved here. I thought it started back before Jesus left Moose Jaw, but The Kensington Writers’ Group (KWG) started 24 years ago. Everyone in the group, me being the latest, has now been published. For all of us it has been a slow, steady, and incremental climb out of the inkwell and on to the published page. We developed our skills as writers together and we got better at critiquing our own, and each other’s work. It's a testament to the group members that it is still together after all this time. I reflected on some of the challenges of keeping a group together in my article “What do I know from Kosher: Lessons Learned from a Cross Cultural Writers’ Group.”

Many of the founding members, like current member Allan Serafino, and previous members, poet Bob Stallworthy, and Judy Galbraith, took a writing course at the University of Calgary in 1985 from Leslie Bell. Allan arranged for them to meet at his work, the Scouts Canada office, for the month of June. We continued to meet there up until Allan retired a few years ago.

The group quickly added a few more members and did a joint publication of short stories and poems called Tilted to the Plane of the World (1987, Galbraith Publishing). “Numerous copies of which apparently still serve as a structural foundation for Judy’s basement,” said Allan.

Over the ensuing years several members were added and subtracted. The current contingent reflects a major shift around the turn of the century to short story writers and novelists. That’s when I infiltrated the group and brought two children’s writers with me from another group.

“Our purpose now, as it was way back then, was to create a “working” writers’ group that was serious about helping each other en route to publication, and definitely not a social club. I think the working atmosphere of an office space helped to do that,” Allan pointed out.

Allan Serafino will be at the Calgary Children’s Book Conference and Fair, as will I, on November 14, 2009. He has published three collections of poetry, Troubled Dreams (1995), Alien States (1999), and Another Way (2003) from Ekstasis Editions, Victoria, as well he has had numerous poems published in Canadian, American, UK and Australian magazines. He was the founding President of the Calgary Writers Association and both past President and Poetry Editor of Dandelion and blue buffalo magazines. His first novel for young adults, Blood Jaguar, was published by LTD Books, in May, 2002. It was runner–up winner of the Golden Eagle Children’s Choice Book Awards. Raedwald’s Ghost is the follow up companion novel. The young adult adventure Seven Words for Sand, published in October, 2004, has been short–listed for several awards. A fourth novel, The Memory Project is pending.

I'll be profiling other members of the group over the next couple of months.

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