Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Kath McCreery - Writer in Residence -Berwick Hills Library

Kath McCreery 
This was the third Cleveland Writers in Residence - following on from Bob Pegg 83 - 85 based at the Dovecot Arts Centre in Stockton and Pete Morgan in Middlesbrough 1984-85. The residency resulted in the formation of the Berwick Hills Writers Group which library Alyson Perry continued to run into the 90's.
In the words of  Kath McCreery from the introduction to the resulting 1987 anthology Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow -

" The writers in this anthology took part in workshops and creative writing groups I led while I was Writer in Residence in East Middlesbrough from January t  July 1986.In the six months I spent at Berwick Hills Library and Keldholm Comprehensive School, my twin bases in the area, I was astonished at the number of talented people coming forward who had been writing for years with limited or no success at having their work printed or performed. Even more amazing were the adults who had not written since school but but who discovered in a workshop that they had something to say,the ability to say it, and that writing was fun.
The children were particularly rewarding:honest, direct, perceptive, thoughtful, and original regardless of their academic achievements.They too deserve to be heard.

The title for the anthology was suggested by Ida Wood, and it is certainly appropriate.Yesterday,Today and Tomorrow includes richly detailed reminiscences and autobiography,comments both serious and satiric on the contemporary scene, and deeply felt hopes and fears for our future.It is part of the process of reclaiming our history, of insisting on our right to a voice,of speaking for ourselves about the issues,the ideas, the feelings that we regard as important,whether we are young or old. All the voices here are unique,their pleasure in the use of language shines through, and I am confident that those who read it will share the pleasure.

Thanks to Carole Sloan of Berwick Hills Library who helped edit this anthology and is continuing to support the Creative Writing groups at the library, and to Mary Harrison of  Keldholm School who gave guidance, provided organisational back up and hospitality.Their enthusiasm and encouragement were essential ingredients in what was, after all, a pilot project.

And finally, thanks to Northern Arts and Cleveland County Council Education and Library Services for organising and funding my placement and financing this publication.Without their commitment to a policy of access to the arts for everyone,their initiative and enterprise,this anthology would not have been possible."

Kathleen McCreery 1987


Librarian Alyson Perry at Berwick Hills Library
with Terry Lawson - Outlet Co-editor  c1989 

This residency ran parallel with Trev Teasdel's first WEA Creative Writing course in Jan 1986 and although thee were no formal links some of the adult participants were common to both. Mel McEvoy - who had been involved with the Castalians and New Poetry Scene was also a member of Trev's class an importantly became a co-editor of Outlet in the autumn of 1986. Joan Clark was also a member of Trevor's class and became a contributor to Outlet. Jim Scanlon and Alan Watkiss were members of Teesside Writers Workshop.

Librarian Alyson Perry with Carole Sloan continued to organise the Berwick Hills Writing group into the 90's and Alyson and Carole were great supporters of Outlet Magazine. In 1988 Alyson invited Trev Teasdel to run a WEA Creative Writing class for one term. One of the students and member of the Berwick Hills Writing Group - Joan Dalton commented that she wished there was something similar in Redcar where she lived. Trev helped Joan set up the Redcar Writers Group.

The second term a young Bob Beagrie came to the class at Berwick Hills and asked what he could go on to.Bob had written a Science Fiction / horror novel and was starting to write poetry. Trev helped him get on a Creative Writing and Art degree course in Crew Alsager and and got him involved with both Outlet and Write Around. When Bob returned to Teesside 3 years later, he back involved with the writing scene and became a major writing activist in his own write.

Alyson Perry and Carole Sloan joined the Write Around committee in 1987 and Berwick Hills library became the base for the organising committee with Alyson as our secretary. 

Kath McCreery returned to Berwick Hills Library a year later with her new play The Taming of the Shrew - or Mussolini, Kate's Part in his Downfall. Peter Stockill reviewed the play for Outlet - below.

Later in 1988 Kath McCreery's play was staged at 
Berwick Hills Community Centre. Advert from Outlet.

In the next issue of Outlet 1988, Peter Stockill reviewed the play.

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