Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Outlet - Federation of Cleveland Writers Groups

By 1989 and the first Write Around Around festival, the initial base of Writers Groups in the Cleveland (Tees Valley) area had multiplied, largely as a result of Trev Teasdel's Creative Writing Course project since 1986 but not exclusively. 

The idea was to help these groups network interact and share resources and facilitate their development as writers and and as groups and help with the objective of raising the profile of the area as a place where writing could thrive and develop.

In 1985 Trevor and Clive Rawson were involved with a special Write Together project in the North East with Keith Armstrong and Kevin Cadwallander to resource and develop groups in the North East. Cleveland was the poor relation back then. Through Outlet and other developments, the Creative Writing landscape of the Cleveland area had been transformed and Write Around was beginning to consolidate those achievements. It now seemed time to develop a similar Writers Group Network specifically for the Cleveland area, which in turn could redevelop links wider afield in the region.

The Outlet Editorial team discussed this at some length and some of the newer editors took charge of developing this. In particular new Outlet editor Richard Briddon took a lead on this, as it was particularly relevant to his own group - The Middlesbrough Writers Workshop and Margaret Weir, whose newly formed Phoenix Poetry group was developing. Richard produced a draft letter (which will be on here as a pdf soon) to go out to groups and both Richard and Margaret  began by inviting groups in the area to share joint readings and performances, especially during the Write Around Festival but also before and after. The Phoenix Writers Group, through Margaret Weir and Jean Cumbour, for instances arranged joint readings with Poetry 20+, Redcar Writers Group, Bramblethorne Writers, Middlesbrough Writers Workshop, Teesside Writers Workshop, Yarm and Guisborough Writers groups.

Ultimately the Federation only lasted for a short while around the enthusiasm of  the Outlet Editors (and soon funding for Outlet would cease)  and the leaders of the writers groups concerned but 1989 saw the climax of this development from the mid 80'sand was an exciting period in the history of  Creative Writing in the area.

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