Society Spotlight: English and Creative Writing

BE YOU AN English student or a day-by-day book lover, the English and Creative Writing Society here in Aberystwyth has a lot to offer. Poets and writers might try their hand at a poetry slam or workshop, whilst readers and book worms can share their passion with others at book clubs.
We spoke to Rose Kinnear and Megan Gillet, president and creative writing secretary respectively, to find out a bit more about the workings of the society.

So how is the new academic year shaping out for the ECWS so far?
It’s amazing, but so very busy. We’re doing so many more events than last year – concentrating upon the enjoyable and sociable side with the aim of making this year fantastic for all our members.
This year we’re also focusing upon charity, especially during R.A.G. Month (November) when we will be holding a raffle, with some fabulous prizes from our sponsors (Salt, Rickety Ramshackle, Ystwyth Books and Dragon Cabs), free meals, and various English related prizes, including books. We’re also co-hosting an amusing mick-take of ‘Take Me Out’ with Tickled Pink, as a comedy night held on the 27th of November in the Union.

What sort of events do you host?
Such a range, and so busy as a committee – madness, I tell you. On Mondays we host Book and Cake Club in the Art’s Centre at 7pm. Every week, we discuss a different genre and someone brings cake – books and cake, what more can you ask?
Every Tuesday we have a social (often themed with crazy costumes) that starts in Salt at 8.30. We also run Writing Workshops every two weeks where you can come and discuss your writing, promoting your artistic talents or discussing anything that can be changed.
We run trips, such as to the theatre, or an Oakwood trip at the end of the year to celebrate surviving. We have Open Mic Nights, Poetry Readings and Poetry Slams, which we are hosting all of this term and hope to do the same next semester at a similar rate. We’re also running charity events which are scattered through-out the year supporting both Book Aid and Children in Need.

Can you tell us a bit more about what happens at a ‘poetry slam’?
A ‘​Poetry Slam’ is a competition between participants who perform poetry to judges and are then chosen to get through to three different rounds. It’s great fun for the audience and poets alike and we always have fab prizes from the Department and also vouchers from our sponsors (Ystwyth Book Shop and Rickety Ramshackle). Last year we started two sections which can be entered in, Beginners and Intermediate, so that everyone has a chance to win.

What might happen on a typical ECWS social?
​We start at Salt in our wonderful costumes, varying from In the Jungle Theme to Character Socials and we just go around Aberystwyth’s best pubs drinking, sometimes with games or a certain drink to have in each pub related to the theme.
Our biggest socials of the year tend to be Lord of the Rings (with our map of Middle Earth/Mid-Wales) and Harry Potter (which this year we are co-hosting with Tickled Pink). These are very popular and involve a variety of games, including the Triwizard Tournament or destroying the Ring by getting all the way to Pier Pressure.

Does the ECWS work particularly closely with any staff or local authors?
We work very closely with the Department – often advertising the events which Department authors host, as well as their participation as judges in Poetry Slams. The Department also give prizes for Creative Writing competitions or charity events.
It’s so useful for us to have such a good working relationship with the Department as we are often able to help our members get in contact with the correct people if they are having trouble.
We also have local authors who come in for Poetry Slams and we often try to encourage them to join our society as Associate Memberships so they can come along to our Open Mic Nights and bigger events run in town.

What’s ahead for the ECWS?
Coming up in the next couple of weeks we have a Poetry Slam on the 6th of November in the Picturehouse, a Poetry Reading on the 13th in the Book Shop in the Arts Centre.
‘Take Me Out’ is on the 27th of November and we have an Open Mic Night on the 4th of December. Every Monday is Book and Cake Club, except the 10th of November, and socials are every Tuesday with the Harry Potter Social on the 18th of November.

As an English society, can you recommend two books we might not have read?
This is genuinely so hard because we love books and so many great ones come up and get discussed at Book and Cake Club but we’ll just think of a really amazing book each. Rose says read The Time-Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger because, even if you’ve seen the film the book is just so much better, with really great characters and a stunning plot.
Megan says read Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World by Haruki Murakami, because it’s so well written and one of the oddest but best books that she has read recently.

And finally, how can someone join ECWS?
We’re Aber English and Creative Writing on Facebook. But you can email us at [email protected], or join through the Union website and we’ll email you!