Words Alive began as a taster course offered by Engage With Age in 2009 to encourage older people to meet together and try their hand at creative writing. The organisers had a theory. They knew that older folk are treasure houses when it comes to stories, and memories, having a lifetime of experience to draw on. They were aware that some of their members were keen readers and some already enjoyed being creative with the pen. They also knew that a lot of older folk do not get about easily and can feel isolated. So the class would be a way of testing the water, to see if there was an interest in meeting, sharing thoughts and recollections, and writing down what might otherwise be lost – in their own words, their own voices, with their own take on life. It would perhaps be a way of meeting several interconnected needs and interests.
A year later, with the continued support of Engage With Age, a group emerged very keen to secure funding for a fully-fledged writing group for older people somewhere between 60 and 100 years of age. This was when Words Alive took on its name and proved Engage With Age right. The group includes first time and seasoned writers. It recognises the challenge of learning together when we have different requirements in order to hear and be heard, to understand and be understood.
I have had the good fortune to be the tutor/facilitator of Words Alive since its inception. Like everyone in the group I look forward to the two hours we spend in the library on Friday mornings, as they fill with stories and poems, company, creativity and craic. There is no doubt that individuals have gained confidence and encouragement from being in the group. Indeed, the group has been so productive that we have moved on to this next step of putting some of the work together into print and bringing it to a larger audience.
This collection of poems, stories, recollections and reflections gives us a slice of many lives and sensibilities. Some pieces evoke an era that seems light years from today, yet only yesterday. Others allow us to imagine what it might be like to stand in someone else’s shoes – or bare feet! There is sadness, joy, anger, humour and insight. In the words of one of the members, Myra: “Please enjoy the writings of our group in this book and perhaps be inspired to put pen to paper yourself.”
Words Alive gratefully acknowledges the financial assistance and support of Engage With Age and the Big Lottery Fund’s Awards for All programme. The group would also like to thank Theresa McVeigh of Engage With Age, tutor Ruth Carr and volunteer Moira Stevenson for their expertise. Finally, a big thank you to John Galbraith, our Chairperson for his dedication, to John Galbraith junior for creating the Words Alive website and to Ballyhackamore Library and staff for giving the group houseroom.
Engage With Age
36 Knockbreda Road, Belfast BT6 0JB
Big Lottery Fund’s Awards for All programme
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Aquillrelle is a site dedicated to every poet amongst us – encouraging the type of poetry which is a mix of talent, beauty and expression power. We do it by organizing poetry contests open to all, and biased by nothing but down to earth creativity.