The idea that writers can work together to improve their work is a well held theory; one that members of the Brussels Writers’ Circle (BWC) must surely hold to. This writing group, founded in 1987, who have 200 members among them, meet twice a week in the centre of Brussels, giving readings and feedback on their work. Their first anthology, Circle of Words is a collection of reflections from 26 of their members and is due to be published September 2016, when their local Waterstones will be hosting the launch.
An international mix
It is always interesting reading anthologies that have arisen from a collection of writers. As the author Paul Francis states, “As writers we are each of us alone, but we are better when for brief occasions and specific purposes, we are alone together.” And coming together for this collection from the BWC, is an international mix of talent from 16 countries with story-tellers, poets and journalists talking to us amongst other themes, love, belonging, longing and a ‘look at the struggle of writing itself’.
Traditional to modern
The stories and poems vary greatly which makes the read doubly enjoyable. One moment you are pondering over Kevin Dwyer’s Rodeo Chameleon, the story of a boy dealing with the death of a chameleon with touching detail – I particularly liked the description of the kitchen utensils and what they were used for; it helped magnify that childhood memory of family life and establish the boy’s sense of place – and next you are laughing at the black humour of Jaroslav Albert’s Jesus Unchained. (And I’m not even a Tarantino fan!) These stories hold you from the first paragraph – just as they should. There are the bleak pieces about ageing and hatred alongside the humorous Essex Goldilocks and Waiting for the Wine. There are stories with a traditional feel to them, such as The Bird Man, which make you stop in your tracks and reflect. Avocado is another such story that will stay with you.
The poetry in the collection is just as varied. From the contrast within Alex Dampney’s Through the Pane of Glass – which plays hauntingly on words and one’s imagination, to the poetry of Barbara Koethe, who raises a smile with her ability to find poetry in the everyday. Check out Routine and I promise you won’t look at a salad spinner in the same way again.
There are some colourful travel pieces that transport you to various countries in ways that only talented writers can do. If you thought reading a character’s explanation of their visit to far-flung places was similar to an evening of holiday snaps – think again. Larisa Doctorow Zalesova’s Bali Rendez–vous is full of scents, colour and chirping birds…plus parts you may never have heard of, but will want to visit.
Passion and Energy
Circle of Words, an English-language publication is beautifully put together with the cover art also created by one of the writers, Alex Dampney. ‘Red Wave’ reflects the passion and energy within this collection. I wish all the writers much continued success with their Writers Circle. There is much to reflect on within the book. To quote Simon Boylan in his May 2015 poem about events in Ireland, one believes he could also be referring to the writers themselves.
“People here at peace
With themselves and each other
In this exposed place.”
Circle of Words is published 15 September 2016. Waterstones will host the book launch in Brussels. There is a detailed bio section for the authors in the book where readers can find out more about them and their work through websites and other contact details. To find out more, please visit the website.