Festival of Words
When Christina Ritchie joined the Moose Jaw Prairie Pens Writers’ Group in 2004, she found it to be a “perfect opportunity” for writers.
“I joined because I’m a stay-at-home mom, but my kids are all in school and I need something to do in those morning hours and I heard about Prairie Pens,” she said. “I love writing and I checked it out and I thought, ‘Perfect.’”
The writers’ group meets the second Monday of each month at 10 a.m. upstairs at the Moose Jaw Public Library from September to June.
Ritchie, currently the president of the Prairie Pens, said the group is small with fewer than 10 members, but anyone who loves writing is always welcome to join.
“It’s hard getting people out. Not very many people know that Prairie Pens exist,” she said. “We want to tell people we’re out there. If you love writing or you want to know about writing, come on out. We’d love to have you.“
She added the group formed in the 1990s.
“It actually started with a bunch of seniors who were interested in it and it just formed from there,” said Ritchie. “It’s open to anybody, to the young and the young at heart.”
Members range in age from their mid-30s to 90s.
“We have a large variety of writers and some of them are professional writers,” said Ritchie. “A couple of our members have had books published and a couple of members of our group are writers who are just wanting to get their work out there or they just want to write for the fun of it.”
Some of the published members include Carol Ferguson, who has written two Christian books, and Gladys MacDonald, who published a kids’ book. Ritchie said local writer Gladys McElrea, who recently published her first book Dying to Live; Death May Be a Second Chance, will be joining the group.
The Prairie Pens Writers’ Group has published two books. The first, called Reflections, came out in 2001 and is an anthology of poetry written by members.
The second book, The Mayors of Moose Jaw, was written in conjunction with the City of Moose Jaw’s centennial upon request.
The group is often featured at the Performer’s Café, put on by the Saskatchewan Festival of Words on the last Wednesday of every month at Java Express at 7 p.m.
Ted Dyck, a former writer-in-residence at the Moose Jaw Public Library, started the Performer’s Café.
“It started up at Coffee Encounters and then the Festival of Words took that over and it went to the Java Express They have featured writers at the Performer’s Café,” said Ritchie. “Other people can read or do poems or whatever at the Performer’s Café.”
Also, the group does a number of outings. Some of those have included Christmas gatherings, a tour of 15 Wing, cemetery tours, a tour to the Big Muddy Badlands and Assiniboia where they met up with another writers’ group.
The Moose Jaw Public Library also does local writers’ read-outs. The next read-out is on April 29 at 7:30 p.m. and will feature local author and poet Robert Currie. The writers’ group is usually on hand to supply snacks, and members also read.
“We know Moose Jaw has a big strong, writing community,” said Ritchie. “We want to let them know that these writers’ groups, they do exist, and they’ve got to come out.”
The Prairie Pens will also do a presentation on March 13 at 2:30 p.m. at the Moose Jaw Public Library. Members will also read from some of their pieces of writing.
Follow Lisa Goudy on Twitter @lisagoudy.