The goal of the NC Writers Network West is to have at least one representative in each county of our region which includes nine counties south and west of Asheville. That person is given free membership in NCWN as long as they hold an event in their county – an open mic, critique, Writers Night Out, or some kind of gathering for writers and poets that is open to the public.
Janice Moore and I (Glenda Beall) are reps for Clay County. Janice facilitates the monthly poetry critique group. I facilitate Coffee with the Poets and Writers which meets once each month on Wednesday morning. We have featured readers and open mic followed by a social time.
|LUCY COLE GRATTON|
Karen Holmes and Rosemary Royston are reps for the Georgia counties that border North Carolina. Writers Night Out, a monthly reading, has been a successful venture for several years hosted by Karen Holmes.
Lucy Cole Gratton and Mary Ricketson are representatives for Cherokee County. Lucy does an excellent job of hosting monthly readings at the John C. Campbell Folk School. The monthly Netwest prose critique group is also held in Cherokee County at the Tri-County Community College.
In Jackson County, Newt Smith and Kathryn Byer share the rep duties
and hold Coffee with a Poet each month at City Lights Book Store.
Henderson County representatives, Lana Hendershott and Patricia Vestal, hold a monthly open mic night that has become very popular with writers there. Having two reps work together and share the responsibility of the event eliminates pressure to always be present. Of course our members are usually happy to be the emcee if the representatives cannot attend. Staci Lynn Bell has volunteered to help with hosting Coffee with the Poets and Writers. She does a great job.
It is not difficult to begin an open mic or other event for writers in your area. Find a coffee shop, restaurant, book store, or any place that will open their doors to the group for an hour. Send out word to all the writers in your area either by contacting NCWN or other writers you know in your county. Post a few flyers at the local library or other writerly places in the area.
Those of us who have been doing this for many years will be very happy to help you get the event off the ground and going strong. An NCWN or Netwest sponsored group has the advantage of being a non-profit and that often eliminates having to pay for a venue.
If a group meets in a coffee house or restaurant, they should all purchase something to eat or drink. That is the courteous thing to do and builds a good relationship with the owner of the shop. Also, tipping the waitress goes a long way in making your group welcome at the restaurant.
We sit and write alone but we need community. We need to be with like-minded people to talk about our craft, to discuss our work and learn from each other. An open mic event might be the first time a budding writer gets up enough nerve to read his/her work out loud to an audience.
There are rules for open mic events and for critique groups that will ensure success. The representative in charge sets these rules and makes them known to anyone who participates. A time limit or word limit has to be set to give all those who sign up an opportunity to read.
A good critique group adheres to certain rules to keep writers from becoming defensive or from being too critical and losing members. We have a set of rules for critique that has worked for twenty years and has enabled local poets to help each other and become published.
Our representatives have done a great job for years. We need more people who will take a lead in their counties and promote the literary arts with an event for poets or writers or both.
We invite our representatives to leave a comment here and tell us what you do and why your events are successful.
Email email@example.com if you are interested in becoming a rep in a mountain county that doesn't presently have one. We will be happy to help you get started.