Writers launch new Chequerboard anthology

April 12th, 2024Writers launch new Chequerboard anthology

The Clunes writers group is a diverse lot so it’s little wonder that their new anthology has something in it to appeal to just about every kind of reader.
Clunes Writers’ Group members Sandra Nichols, Judi Palmer and Julie Moran with copies of the group’s new anthology, Chequerboard. Image: Eve Lamb

The Clunes writers group is a diverse lot so it’s little wonder that their new anthology has something in it to appeal to just about every kind of reader.

There is short story, fiction, autobiography and memoir, poetry, haiku – even song lyric.

The group, which has been running for well over fifteen years, launched the new 310 page volume called Chequerboard at the recent Clunes Booktown festival.

 It’s the group’s second published anthology featuring the work of members, and it’s being snapped up fairly fast with half of the copies published in the first print run already sold.

The new anthology showcases the  talent, diverse interests and considerable background life experience of the group’s membership – and it’s an impressively consistent membership.

“We generally  have about 14 to 18 members turn up each month so it’s fairly consistent,” says  group convenor and keen local writer Sandra Nichols.

When members gather, as they do on the second Monday of the month, they get the chance to read their latest work out aloud, taking to the mic to test out their creative output on others who appreciate the written and spoken word.

But members like Newlyn’s Julie Moran are quick to  let you know that you don’t have to take to the mic with your work if you don’t wish to.

However, the fact that it doesn’t seem to take long before most are fairly itching to grab the mic speaks volumes of the fact that this is a welcoming and non-intimidating group.

“During our monthly meetings we encourage our members to read pieces aloud with a microphone,” Julie says.

“We have a monthly theme and more often than not we all write to that theme.

“We don’t critique each other’s work. We don’t pull the pieces apart. It’s a very welcoming environment.”

 Fellow member, Clunes musician and writer Judi Palmer who, like both Julie and Sandra has a background in academic research and writing, agrees on this point.

“It’s very laid-back,” says Judi who contributed several original song lyric works to Chequerboard.

The new anthology was also published by Judi who runs her own local publishing enterprise, Harmony for Books, while the cover design features a quilt design by talented local textile artist, Mel Drummond.

Sandra says that for those group members who, like herself, do occasionally want a bit of constructive feedback, they can simply request and readily obtain it during the group’s monthly sessions.

“Quite a few of our members have been writing stories or poetry for a very long time,” says Sandra, reflecting on the benefits to be derived from being able to read your work aloud to others who share an appreciation for good writing.

“It provides an opportunity to have an audience of people who appreciate what you do.”

Among the 20 different writers whose work is represented in the new anthology, Julie contributed three fictional short stories to Chequerboard, while Sandra contributed works of poetry.

Copies of the new book are available for purchase ($27 for those keen to secure one) from BOOM Clunes at 28 Fraser Street, and group members say they’ll also be selling copies at this month’s Clunes Farmers and Makers Market that happens in the town’s main street on Sunday April 14.

Sandra says new members are very welcome to join this longstanding local writers’ group whose current members travel from locations throughout the wider region including Talbot, Creswick, Newlyn, Newstead, Ballarat and Scarsdale, to attend the monthly sessions that happen from 1-3pm in the town’s main street Attitude building.

“I’m not sure exactly how long  the group has been going for now but it would be 16 to 20 years,” muses Judi.

Members say that those  who think the Clunes Writers’ Group may be for them, are welcome to simply sit in on a monthly session and listen to how it all works before  taking the next step and becoming a member for the very nominal $10 annual membership fee.

More information about the group is available from Sandra on 0438-415-715.

Words: Eve Lamb

Back to top