Friday, November 20, 2020

Meeting Minutes November 19, 2020

6 members met over zoom from 6-7:40

Our discussion was dominated by upcoming local events.

Swanton Arts Council (SAC) is going ahead with plans for the second "Emotion Speaks" arts display. The hope is to have an in person reception to launch the display. The cost to enter is $10. Partipants will receive an 8x8 canvas. Their display, writing, art, etc must fit on this canvas. The new director of the project is Hilarie Santiago. Direct question to her at .

Future theme for "Emotion Speaks" might be Solitude.

Proposal for our group. "The Hate U Give" by Angie Thomas is a topical novel focused on systemic racism in the US. Would members be interested in writing a response to this novel? Possible prompt might be a quote from the book. Our responses might tie in with the Swanton Book group or possibly a community event in the future. The book and movie are available on Amazon/Prime Video. You can also borrow a copy through the Swanton library. Paramters for this project will be discussed at future SWG meetings. Tentative deadline for a response would be April or early May 2021. Please visit the Swanton Public Library website HERE for help gettting a copy of the book or accessing the Green Mountain Consortium for a copy. The members who met this evening seemed interested in the project but we really need wider support for this important conversation.

2021 Edwin M. Church Award. Entries must contain a train element. The expected length is 1,500-3,000 words. Proposed deadline is August 1, 2021. The winner will be announced at the Swanton Arts Spectacular, which is traditionally the second Saturday in September.

We discussed the idea of an annual membership fee to the Swanton Writer's Group. $10-$20. Proposed benefits of membersship: early access to writing events/workshops, subscription to the email list, entrance to an annual writing contest sponsored by the group. Possible long term goal of a contest would be an anthology. It was agreed that further discussion should be undertaken when more members can attend, hopefully in person. Please keep the idea in mind and direct comments to Becky or Michelle.

Three members read their work: Ev, Judy and George (new member who enjoys writng poetry)

The next meeting via zoom will be Thursday December 17, 2020 from 6-7:30. Becky will send a link to all members.

Friday, October 16, 2020

Meeting Minutes October 15, 2020

Seven group members met over zoom from 6-7:15 pm.

Contests and Challenges

Something or Other Publishing Short Story Contest. Link found HERE Decription: Short stories, short non-fiction, and flash fiction all eligible. First prize $250. Qualified stories will be included in an anthology. Qualification involves votes by readers - when you submit, they’ll send you a voting page link so that you can shamelessly solicit votes. (So if you enter, be sure to let us all know.) The deadline is midnight on October 31, but looks like the sooner, the better, for vote-gathering purposes. They’ll announce the winners on November 3. At the website, also check under “Publish” for info on submitting a book, story, or anthology idea.

Nanowrimo Info found HERE Begins again this year on November 1. The challenge is to write a novel in a month, with lots of encouraging backup at the website. There’s also a Young Writers version of Nanowrimo that requires less writing – could be a fun project to share with kids.


League of Vermont Writers
They don’t have much going on right now, but if you go to “Gatherings” and check under “Workshops,” they’re open for suggestions for workshops. So if you’d like to host a workshop or know someone who might, take a look. Could be a virtual program.


“How Can We Pay for Creativity in the Digital Age?” For artists, writers, and musicians - how to make a living? Link found HERE


Ev Larson read “Albany,” a deadpan, but hilarious, account of attempting to renew a driver’s license in the age of Covid-19.

Michelle Willard read her now titled horror short story "The Breeze of Autumn" which ended in a cemetery. She has been recruited to enter the Swanton Library’s Scary Stories project.

Emmet Matthieu has finished the first draft of his sci-fi novel; read the opening paragraphs of his untitled new project, in which main character Benito Alvarez is about to be framed for murder and will end up fighting for his life.


We’ve got a member hip of 25 or so, of whom very few routinely join the current Zoom meetings. These really are fun and effective - and it’s very simple to join in. If anybody needs help, just contact Becky. She will talk you through the process.

We kicked around possibilities of partial in-person/Zoom meetings at the Swanton Public Library. Due to safety and social distancing requirements, we’d have to limit attendance. Judy suggested charging a minimal fee for in-person slots, Michelle suggested the money be used to fund a prize for a Writers Group contest. (What does everybody think?)

Meetings have moved to the third Thursday of the month starting in November. Meeting date over zoom will be Thursday, November 19th at 6 pm. Becky will email the link a couple days in advance.

Meeting notes September 10, 2020

Notes taken by Becky, Remember to check the Swanton Writing Group FB page for info on contests, events, general chat and more - and our blog, faithfully maintained and updated by Michelle. Upcoming: Scary Story Contest and Zine Due date: October 1 Submit to: Short piece of original fiction with a focus on the scary or the horrific. Maximum word count: 1500 words. Include your name and contact info on your document. See our FB page for scary story starters! Edwin M. Church Award Due date: October 1 Open to ages 17 up who live, work, or are otherwise involved in Swanton, Submit to Original short story of 1500-3000 words maximum; MUST include a railroad or train mention or reference. Prize of $500 Booksie 2020 Poetry Contest Due date: November 7 Any type, length, or content of poetry; can submit as many entries as you like. Prize of $1000 National Poetry Competition Due date: October 31 Submit an unpublished poem of up to 40 lines; open to anyone 18 and over. Ten cash prizes. Boulevard Nonfiction Contest for Emerging Writers Due date: September 30 Entry fee: $16 Open to writers who have not been published with a nationally distributed press. Essays of up to 8000 words. Winning essay gets $1000 and publication in the magazine. Boulevard Short Fiction Contest Due date: December 31 Entry fee: $16 Open to writers who have not been published in a nationally distributed press. Fiction pieces of up to 8000 words. Winner gets $1500 and publication in the magazine. Recommended by SWG members: Masterclass Online Classes For $15/month or $180/year, access to unlimited online video classes. These are available in a number of categories - writing classes are variously taught by Neil Gaiman, Margaret Atwood, Malcolm Gladwell, Dan Brown, Joyce Carol Oates, Billy Collins, and more. Window Swap Open a new window somewhere in the world. Participants can post short videos or still shots from their windows. The Museum of Four in the Morning Just why is four in the morning so ubiquitous? Find out with this TED talk by poet/storyteller Rives. Mondegreens and the Science of Misheard Lyrics From tonight's discussion - check this out from the New Yorker. Obit A great documentary on the small staff at the NY Times who are responsible for writing the obituaries. Fascinating. (Nancy! Thinking of you!) Who Read What: Emmet read the first part of a piece - possibly a submission for the Scary Stories Zine - involving a kidnapped princess, a fashion-challenged prince, a fearsome blind fairy, and a corset. (By next meeting, Emmet's daughter Ella will have arrived - the SWG's first baby!) Ev read "Mood Swings with Pear" causing the entire group to obsess about paintings of pears. Renee read a piece about an interaction with an infernal fire alarm (at four in the morning; see above) and a poem about a friend's ex-boyfriend titled "Dead Fish." Next meeting: Thursday, October 8, 6-7 PM. Please join in - with recommendations, good books, suggestions, and news - and please bring something to read!

Monday, April 27, 2020

Notes from the "In Between" Meeting, April 23rd 2020

9 members joined our Google Zoom meeting which ran from 6-6;55 pm.

Becky apprised us of a self publishing book prize open to all genres. Find more information at NORTH STREET book prize.

Ev mentioned a Flash Fiction contest sponsored by The Master's Review. Find more information HERE

April is National Poetry Month.  Get involved with the Swanton library poetry contest. Read your work or a favorite poetry piece at a virtual meeting. April 28th.  Complete information found HERE. Submit poetry entries to Abbey Gaudette EMAIL.

Ev read his Flash Fiction piece "Service Visit Survey-How Did We Do?"

Emmet read more of his virus story and the group brainstormed ideas with him.

Kylie read a draft of her query letter for her novel. The group discussed query letters, their purpose and some dos and don'ts.

Don't forget our April writing prompt: "Uphill Tuesday"

Next meeting is May 14th at 6 pm. Virtual or in person TBD.

Sunday, April 12, 2020

Meeting Minutes April, 9 2020

Our first Virtual Meeting due to Covid 19.  Here's hoping we can get together in person in May.  Using Google Zoom: Becky, Emmett, Michelle Renee, Caleb, Nancy, Ev, Don, Joanne and Scott (apologies if I missed anyone!)

April is National Poetry Month.  The Swanton Library is hosting a virtual poetry read on Tuesday April 28th 2020. If anyone is interested or knows anyone who is interested in reading, writing, submitting poetry for this event, or sharing their favorite poems please EMAIL Caleb

The Swanton Library is hosting a virtual book club.  So far the meetings have been weekly. A discussion topic is offered and people share their reads related to this topic. The next meeting is Wednesday April 15th. EMAIL the library for details and an invite to the meeting.

We discussed Covid 19 and the effect it is having on all of us. Renee mentioned "Isolation Diaries". The discussion generated a story prompt. "Uphill Tuesday." What does this term mean to you?

Several members shared their current writing projects.

Emmett read a portion of the story inspired by the highway sign mentioned last month. Story idea: a plague that killed everyone except the terminally ill.

Judy read a piece about what happened when she broke her diet and ate meat after a long absence (It wasn't pretty)

Nancy read her 'Things Not To Do' list re Covid 19

Ev read a song about Covid 19.

Caleb brought up the singer/songwriter John Prine and read a portion of the lyrics to "That's the Way the World Goes Round"

Our next meting is schedule for May 14th at 6 pm.  Becky will send out a google zoom invite if we have to meet virtually, otherwise see you all at the Swanton Library!

Meeting notes March 12, 2020

Notes by Becky,

Attendees: Emmett, Scott, Don, Ev, Lynn, Judy, Kylie, Keith, Richard, Becky

Discussions covered everything from coronavirus to writing techniques (important to remember: there are lots of recommendations, but no rules; many roads lead to Rome), Tin House literary magazine (argh; now closing), and Swanton's recycled instrument band (the Social Repercussions: Judy is a genius at names).

Still time to create doll obituaries. Should you desire to kill a doll, EMAIL Judy.

Becky's book After Eli just went into its seventh printing.

Completely forgotten to bring up by Becky, despite her extensive helpful notes: Heather Buczkowski wants to come by and film us for her Swanton video series. How do you all feel about this? I love Heather and her project - but don't want to commit without a group okay. Let me know how you feel about being stars of stage and screen.

Emmett, inspired by a coronavirus warning sign on the interstate, has come up with a brilliant idea for a sci-fi story in which a plague wipes out all but the terminally ill. (Yes! Write it!)

Scott read another song background memoir entry, intended to accompany his upcoming CD. Dark, but evocative, and covers everything from a car wreck to suicide, mental illness, alcoholism, and - ultimately - hope of redemption. There's more to come. Suggestion that he create a blog linked to CD so that listeners can read his background essays.

Ev read an inspirational list poem titled "Some Things to Not Do" - which struck a universal chord. Let's all try one for the next meeting! It was all I could do not to start one then and there.

Lynn read her poem "Dormant," which clearly should be posted at the library every winter.

Kylie read a portion of a chapter of her novel, causing me to totally fall for Jasper the newspaper-shredding cat.

Keith read "The Forgotten Forest," first draft of a hilarious Princess-Bride-like short story, with characters Quagmire and Nintendo.

Richard read three new poems, including his first for children, titled "Can Giraffes Swim." I came right home and looked it up. They can't. Loved that poem.

Next meeting: Thursday, April 9, 6 PM at the Swanton Library.

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

What's a Poem

Notes for this entry compiled by Becky with assistance from Josh.


Bluets by Maggie Nelson

Poems in the form of 240 numbered essays or meditations. "Bluets: Maggie Nelson on the Color Blue as a Lens on Memory, Loneliness, and the Paradoxes of Love"

At a job interview at a university, three men sitting across from me at a table. On my CV it says that I am currently working on a book about the color blue. I have been saying this for years without writing a word. It is, perhaps, my way of making my life feel “in progress” rather than a sleeve of ash falling off a lit cigarette. One of the men asks, Why blue? People ask me this question often. I never know how to respond. We don’t get to choose what or whom we love, I want to say. We just don’t get to choose.

"The Collected Works of Billy the Kid" by Michael Ondaatje

Described as a short novel, but actually a collage of imagined interviews, poems, prose, and photos, adding up to a biography of Billy the Kid

These are the killed.
(By me) —
Morton, Baker, early friends of mine.
Joe Bernstein. 3 Indians.
A blacksmith when I was twelve, with a knife.
5 Indians in self defence (behind a very safe rock).
One man who bit me during a robbery.
Brady, Hindman, Beckwith, Joe Clark,
Deputy Jim Carlyle, Deputy Sheriff J.W. Bell.
And Bob Ollinger. A rabid cat
birds during practice,

These are the killed.
(By them) —
Charlie, Tom O’Folliard
Angela D’s split arm,
and Pat Garrett
sliced off my head.
Blood a necklace on me all my life.

"Tender Buttons" by Gertrude Stein

Good faith demands that I include this, but full disclosure, this woman sucks. Okay, that's not fair. A lot of my resentment is that everyone around me always loves her. I have had professors describe her as their "spirit animal." And I am happy to get you their contact information. Because I do not get it. My experience with Gertrude Stein has been like being the only sober person at a party. I end up standing in the corner wondering why everyone else isn't bored. That said, she does something that really sets the fire for some people, and you can't fake that. In the interests of description, I will say that it is considered a modernist masterpiece that uses repetitive language to make the mundane become unfamiliar and uncanny, or so I am told. It's kind of like that thing where you say a word over and over until suddenly it has no meaning. And it's true. That is a thing you can do.

'The Narrow Road to the Interior" by Kimiko Hahn

A poem written as a journal, in this case as an Asian pillow book.

"That This" by Susan Howe

Cross-genre “patchwork poems” – combining, for example, the writings of Cotton Mather and other Puritan ministers, the captivity story of Mary Rowlandson, old bird books, Thoreau’s journals, old municipal histories, and the poetry of Longfellow and Emily Dickinson. Additional article: Susan Howe "Patchwork Poems"

"This Is Not a Novel" by David Markson. Poem as research – communication through data

"The Glass Essay" by Anne Carson. Poem as memoir

Meeting Minutes November 19, 2020

6 members met over zoom from 6-7:40 Our discussion was dominated by upcoming local events. Swanton Arts Council ( SAC ) is going ahead w...