Writing in 150 competition puts wordsmiths on the McCloskey stage

Zandbergen photo, Nation Valley News

CHESTERVILLE — More than a dozen local wordsmiths descended on the McCloskey Hotel as ‘A Bunch of People’ hosted their first annual Writing in 150 competition.

The ‘150’ referred to the number of minutes that each participant had to pound out a written work — choosing from several categories, each with its own assigned theme.

“It went very well,” said organizer Amanda Burger — spearhead of the ‘A Bunch of People’ charitable arts endeavour as well as a planned new café that will open April 6 at the 22 Victoria Street venue. The writing competition, Burger added, will be held annually as a result of the successful March 16 debut. “I’m really pleased,” she said. “We just have so many artistic people in the area, and we just don’t know about them.”

Judges and some of the competitors pose at the event’s conclusion. In front: organizer Amanda Burger and competitor Harmony Koiter. Second row, from left: competitors Taylor White, Tony Glen, Patrick Burger, Rick Ventrella and judge John Jordan. Back, from left, competitor Jennifer Pretty, judge Murray Barkley, competitors Marnie Fossit, Paul Stockton, Sabrina Ventrella, Frances Ilgunas and judges Jane Wheeler, Alexandria Haber, Rachelle Eves; and Suzanne Millaire-Steele. Zandbergen photo, Nation Valley News

The activities that afternoon went beyond mere written pages as many of the entrants read aloud from their finished works on the McCloskey stage. Some of the categories were specifically designed as an audible experience from the outset: “Slam poetry,” short plays and freshly written songs wafted from the front of the tavern — the creator’s voices sometimes accompanied by music.

All of the contributed works are set to be published in a planned book and CD.

Burger rounded up an impressive array of judges to rank the finished product of the wordsmiths on scene: They included — among others — Murray Barkley, a well-known local historian from Avonmore; Montreal playwright Alexandria Haber whose work has been professionally produced throughout Canada; accomplished children’s author Troy Kent; poet, author and McCloskey’s denizen Brian Talmey; The Planet Smashers alum John Jordan; local actor and musician Rachelle Eves;  Montreal actors Jane Wheeler and Alexandria Haber (also a playwright); poet Sandra Stephenson; local actor-singer Suzanne Millaire-Steele; and local scribes Carolyn Thompson-Goddard and Tom Schoch.

The winners:

Fiction 10-14 yr. (Theme: ILLUSION)
1st Place: Isaac Poirier

Fiction 21+ yrs. (Theme: ESCAPE)
1st Place: (tied) Marnie Fossit and Jennifer Pretty
2nd Place: (tied)Taylor White and Sabrina Ventrella

Non-Fiction 21+ yrs. (Theme: COURAGE)
1st place: Paul Stockton
2nd Place: (tied) Terry McDonald and Carolyn Thompson Goddard

Poetry 21+ yrs. (Theme: SALVATION)
1st Place: Frances Ilgunas
2nd Place: Brian Talmey

Short Play 21+ yrs. (Theme: HUNGER)
1st Place: Sandra McNeil
2nd Place: Patrick Burger

Spoken Word/ Slam Poetry 21 yrs. (Theme: SURVIVAL)
1st Place: Amanda Burger
2nd Place: Harmony Koiter

Song Writing 21+ yrs (Theme: WATER)
1st Place: Tony Glen
2nd Place: Rick Ventrella

See a few more photos of the day in the gallery below.


In the video below, participants in the Writing in 150 event show what they’ve created after 150 minutes of effort.
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