On the morning of Friday 3rd November, we hosted our Anthology Launch Party at the Friends Meeting House on Southdown Road in Harpenden. We had switched from our usual room to the larger one for the occasion, and the committee had laid out several neatly packed rows of chairs in the main Meeting Room. They had a publicity banner up outside the front of the building, and in the smallest room, the Library, they had set up the sales desk with piles of our shiny new books on display. At the front of the Meeting Room, where the speeches, the readings and the cake-cutting would be taking place, was another well put-together, colourful display board for the Anthology.
By the way, we find Friends Meeting House to be a really convenient and very comfortable space for our regular meetings and would recommend it for other groups and events.
As more and more Harpenden Writers and their guests arrived at our Launch Party, so the buzz in the room grew. Indeed, by the time our Chairman Stephen Lloyd delivered his welcome speech, the car park at the side of the building was full and there were only a couple of spare chairs at the back of the Meeting Room. The proceedings were being filmed and audio-recorded and a few people were also taking photographs. Membership Secretary, Rania and the publicity team have been posting images on our our Facebook page , check them out
A short audio report of the event has been produced and is to be broadcast on Radio Verulam on Monday morning, 13th November, sometime between 9am and 12 noon. Quite probably around the time that Harpenden Writer and former committee member/Chair, Jo Coleman is being interviewed live over the phone by Phil Richards at 9:30am. If you miss it, the radio station does have a listen-again facility. And the audio package will be posted here on this blog as well, at a later date – after it ‘falls off the shelf’ at the Radio Station. On Thursday 16th November, on Radio Verulam’s West Herts Drivetime show, Anthology team member and co-designer of ‘The Words’ Derek Smith will be interviewed live by Danny Smith (no relation?!). Tune in to 92.6FM or listen online, at 5:30pm to hear this, and again it may well be on the station’s Listen Again webpage.
Once the video we took has been edited, we will endeavour to share it on our Facebook page, for posterity. But we can share some of the highlights of the morning with you here. We had a number of very special guests at the Launch Party, including the spouse of some recently deceased Harpenden Writers. It was lovely to welcome them and see that they are still interested in our activities. In particular though, we were pleased to see Ray Bell in the audience, whose wife Mo was a former chair. ‘The Words’ – this, our second major published Anthology, is dedicated to her memory.
The Anthology team have produced a 132-page volume, with 56 contributions of poetry and prose from 25 of our authors. Terry Jones, the editor of ‘The Words’ and chairman of Ver Poets was another special guest at the Launch and, in his speech he explained the criteria he used to make his selections:
I was very, very happy to do it … because I love reading…I read each piece before I made any decisions twice …I’d just read it and try not to form a view, just kind of let it flow into me… then I would read it again and ask myself, am I enjoying it, is it telling me something … true about the world?
Another very special guest of course was Madam Mayor of Harpenden, Councillor Rosemary Farmer. She had been invited to attend the Launch ceremony in her official capacity and she listened to several of our readings, then delivered a genuine, heartfelt speech to congratulate us. She praised the high standard of the volume and added:
I’m absolutely sure that one of the great advantages of belonging to a writers group, such an excellent one as yours, is that you all get the mutual encouragement, the incentive, and support to get writing, and who knows where that may lead.
‘The Words’ is now available for purchase, at £6.50, from our website and from local stores including Harpenden Books, Serena Hart and ‘Thorns of Harpenden’. In addition, on Saturday 18th November, between 10.30am and 12:30pm, there be a book-signing event with readings from ‘The Words’ at Harpenden Books on the High Street.