It’s Shaftesbury Fringe this weekend (29thJune to 1stJuly) and members of Shaftesbury Arts Centre’s creative writing group will be presenting a series of short stories, reflecting the life and history of the town.
Chairman Jenny Parker says that the writers were inspired for their ‘Shaftesbury Tales’ by noting down what they have seen and heard around the town. “We wanted to write something like the Canterbury Tales,” said Jenny.
The group is publishing their stories in a book. “We want people to know that we are there. We meet upstairs in the Arts Centre so people don’t see us,” said Jenny. “We think people should know about us because some of our tales are pretty good,” Jenny added.
Jenny wouldn’t give too much away about the stories, though. “We’ve noticed a bench that somebody might have sat on. There is a tale about that. There’s one or two about the history of the Abbey and what went on there. The story concerning things that happened in the bell tower is quite exciting!” said Jenny.
One of the tales is inspired by a well-known rumour surrounding a sudden death. Some of the tales are based on fact, some are pure fiction and some of the stories, like Richard Foreman’s, blend both fantasy and reality. Richard’s piece was inspired by the name of a Shaftesbury street.
“I was doing research on Mampitts Road with a view to finding out why it got its name,” said Richard. “I wasn’t successful but what I did discover is that in the late 1940s a couple of excavations were done in the graveyard. Pits, dating from the Neolithic age, were uncovered. They found bits of pottery and curious lumps, which were a mixture of ash and charcoal,” Richard explained. “It had all the appearance of some kind of settlement that far back in time.” Richard has written about life during those times for his ‘tale’ and he says he enjoyed following the brief of writing something local.
The authors will read their Shaftesbury Tales at the Arts Centre between 10.30am and 12.45pm on Saturday 30thJune. The Arts Centre photography group will provide pictures as a backdrop to the readings.
If you are interested in joining the ten regular creative writing group members at their fortnightly Arts Centre meetings, then get in touch through the Centre’s website. Jenny says the members work together ‘in an amicable fashion’ and without a tutor. “We self critique,” said Jenny. “And our writing is getting bolder!”