On this page, we share contributions from members of the Rugby Cafe Writers.
Cafe Writers were challenged to write about something on the wall behind them. A picture or a photograph perhaps? Read the stories and poems here.
The Gaderene Swine
(This is the story of the Gaderene swine told from the point of view of the madman.)
It has made him very tired this exorcism.
It’s not so long since he saw
The innocent and helpless herd commit for him
A proxy death,
An ugly thing,
Part of himself adopted by the grubbing swine
Then pushed, screaming to extinction in convenient seas.
It sickened him to see the devils that he knew united
In the alien pack.
Together in their madness they became one corporate
Elected to encompass all the fragments that made up
At first he wondered who would compensate the swineherd
For his loss of livelihood
But no one came to him with claims
And, looking down into the moving waves,
He found the sea had washed away
The momentary stain.
A couple of years ago, I wandered into St Andrew’s Church in Rugby and found the Cafe Writers gathering for one of their fortnightly meetings. Tea and coffee cups were clinking and there was a hubbub of friendly book-focused chat.
Ever since then, I have been a regular attender. To begin with, I felt a bit of a fraud. I hadn’t written a book: I hadn’t written a short story. I had a background in local newspaper journalism and, over a career spanning 25 years, had written hundreds of articles in print and online. But, as to fiction, I was a newcomer.
However, I had one big thing in common with everyone else around the table: I loved books. That is something of an understatement. I am obsessed with books as the many piles around my house will confirm. At any one time, I have perhaps ten or so books on the go. Sometimes it takes me ages to finish them, but that doesn’t matter. It’s the feel, the smell, the hidden delights awaiting in them.
People bring along either something they have written themselves or an example of something they admire in the writing of others.
And that was enough to make me feel at home with this inspirational group. There is an eclectic mix of people. Some are successful professional writers whose books have appeared in best-seller lists. Others have self-published novels whilst some are keen amateur poets. We all love writing and we love books.
Each time, we have a loose theme for our discussion – humour, anti-heroes, romance, opening lines, blurbs and so on. People bring along either something they have written themselves or an example of something they admire in the writing of others. We also exchange news on our own projects and, often, there is the wonderful moment of someone revealing their latest published book. There is always an ooh and an aah as the book is carefully passed around the group. What do we think of the cover? What does it smell like? Are we pleased with the typography and layout?
Several times a year, writers from the group take a table at various literary festivals to promote their books. We’re not talking about hundreds of sales, but to sell a dozen might be a good day – even a couple can give you a good feeling.
In a time when reading could be seen to be on the decline, especially amongst young people, it is encouraging to see so many talented writers around, exploring so many different genres. Perhaps when you read this selection, you might think that you, too, have a book or a poem you would like to share. Perhaps you might want some advice on how to get it into print or online. You might just love books and want to talk about them. John Howes, member of Rugby Cafe Writers