Possibly the oldest writing group in Wales, the circle came into being on 6th May 1947 when eleven people met to share their interest in and love of the craft of writing. The format of future meetings began spontaneously when three manuscripts were read and constructively criticised.
Seventy-three years later the Circle still meets every week, and Coronavirus hasn’t stopped us with forty plus members joining a Facebook virtual group either on the usual Monday evening slot of 7 -9pm for live critique, support and encouragement, or over the course of the week. In more normal times manuscript extracts of novels, short stories, plays and poems are read to the group, with parts in plays sometimes being shared out and read by volunteers.
Over the years there have been many successful publications of novels, in magazines and broadcasts. Membership numbers have varied, now up to twenty members attending most meetings. The venue has changed many times, coal fires, noisy juke boxes, parking, a large choir in an adjacent room all contributing, but is now settled at the newly renovated YMCA centre in Shakespeare St – a good central location with parking and excellent public transport links along Newport and City roads and with a large room where social distancing is possible. And the street name is perfect for a writing group!
The Circle has held in house competitions since 1947 and continues now with five a year: for short stories, poetry, flash fiction and two pieces of humorous writing, the first three being judged by an outside adjudicator and the two latter by the vote of members at the annual Christmas and end of term summer parties. Friendship and social interaction has always been a valued part of the Circle with meetings having a half time break for tea, coffee, and chat. Many also read poems and extracts at the regular Company of Words open mic nights, held in coffee shops such as Little Man and 200 degrees Coffee in Cardiff city centre.
For the 70th anniversary in 2017 there was a celebratory lunch with past members joining us with a share of memories. In 2019 we published our first collection of stories and poems, ‘Write on Cardiff’ for which every member contributed three pieces of their work. The book was launched in the Senedd under the auspices of the First Minister, Mark Drakeford with past members and various literary connections joining us for a great evening of readings and chat – with the particularly welcome presence of our almost original founding member RAF spitfire pilot and ex Cardiff head master.
Our next project is to run a series of workshops to further develop writing skills. So, we continue -welcoming new members, new writing and new friendships.
To find our more visit: https://www.facebook.com/cardiffwriterscircle/