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WLF: Writers Leap Forward | September 7, 2013

Worcester Literary Festival has hit a bump in the road.
They all rolled over and all except one fell out.
Shock! Horrors! …
No, wait… They all fell out and one rolled over…
No, one fell out and they all rolled over…

Hang on, let’s start over, and let’s do it calmly. Yes I know that we are poets and writers and not well know for calm, cold, unemotional, rational reactions to upheavals but I am going to set aside my own personal dismay and confusion and tell it sensibly.

Being a writer who desires to give my poetic word the kiss of life, raise it kicking and squirming from the page, and share its breath with a throng of adherents, I am always pleased to be invited to spoken word evenings. Parole Parlate has been one of those, in Worcester, that particularly caught me up a couple of years ago and the people were very warm and kind and embracing. The readings and performances I have witnessed there and in other venues in Worcestershire have been enthralling and delighting as much as any amateur or professional event anywhere.

However, being about an hour’s drive away I have only gradually come to know a select few of the wonderful, talented individuals that have driven the Worcestershire literary scene into the limelight for the past two or three years.

Yes, it was a surprise to learn, from Martin Driscoll, after the Mouth and Music event at The Boars Head in Kidderminster, that there had been a rising trend of disquiet among the WLF committee. It was much more of a shock to read this week, on Facebook, that the schism was complete.

I have since begun to understand some of the politics leading to that point and am not going to denigrate anyone in this brief comment. Having been a union representative twice in my life, I am acutely aware of the distress that internal politics causes and I want to say, to all
those intimately concerned with WLF, who were there on Thursday, these few words.

Firstly, it is not quite over. The loss of something fine leads to grief, anger, self-chastisement and recrimination. And there will be ripples yet to backwash. Try to decrease, but honestly, the intensity of reactions.

Secondly, George Orwell and Sir Winston Churchill both wanted their country to remain free and democratic but would never be able to coexist with each other’s politics in peacetime. In stepping forward, as I am absolutely certain will happen, keep in mind what happened between Napoleon and Snowball.

Thirdly, the Thursday event at the Old Rectifying House was very spiritually generous and encouraging. Please keep it going and build. As Ray Kinsella says in Field of Dreams
“If you build it, they will come.”

Finally, whatever writers’ groups there are throughout Worcestershire should be invited to a discussion, given the chance to add an event, be included in publicity.

Al Barz

PS I treasure the little association I have with creative people of Worcester. Invite me again.

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