We are delighted to welcome Rose Ann Fraser Ritchie as our featured writer and committee member. Rose, whom some of you will already know through the events she has run at the Merlin and elsewhere, is our new Events Co-ordinator and will be ensuring that our events run smoothly. She explains below how she got into the poetry performance scene in Edinburgh and was invited to read her poem Wojtek, which you can read below, at the official unveiling of Wojtek’s statue in Princes Street.
I first really found out about the poetry and spoken word scene in Edinburgh when I went to watch my daughter Marianna play in a band ‘The Budslugs’ at the Forest cafe in 2010. There were also poets reading that evening. One poet shouted out he was looking for volunteers for a new group he was forming to put on free open mic nights.
It is a life style I chose, to write poetry, perform and run events, it is one I really want to keep going. After this reawakening and being a creative person, I went back to college to study drama and music. It was such a joy and led me to write more lyrical poetry. I love art, theatre, singing in our band, dance and I love community poetry.
I seem to join writing groups naturally as I did with Inky Fingers, Craigmillar Poets and the Thistle Scribblers helping to be a facilitator and encouraging others to write is what I enjoy. I am a writer I think that writes from the heart. I would even dare to say metaphysical and lyrical poetry seems to flow from me freely. I believe in chakra middle centres and I also love reading and writing short stories. I would love to write a play one day soon.
My role with the Federation is that of event support. My background is in project management and I seem to co-ordinate naturally. I have been supported in my role by respected writers and publishers that have encouraged me in my efforts since I have joined. I went last year to StAnza to run a stall at the book market. For a year or so I ran Federation events at The Merlin in Morningside and we had very good attendance from members. I also run events in Craigmillar and Leith now either independently or in association with the Federation and it is great fun.
.The standard of writers in the Federation is very high and yet welcoming to new writers. Everyone is welcome to join for free and all is asked is a small donation at events for example to keep events and competitions running. I hope to meet you at one of our events soon!
Here is one of my poems. I first heard the children’s author Jenny Robertson give a talk about him to Polish children, it engaged me so much to write a poem which eventually was chosen for the official unveiling ceremony of the statue in Princes Street Gardens in Edinburgh. Championed by another writer of Wojtek, Aileen Orr. Thank you and good luck with your writing!.
Bear in mind that this was war
The Polish people clicked with him
Their mascot so very real to them
In the midst of so much confusion..
This big bear was the sanity
And a most welcome inclusion
Rescued in exchange for beer
Never there was a hint of fear
The soldiers united laughed
Less despair with Wojtek
The ‘Soldier Bear’ kept hope alive
Another reason to fight and survive
Carrying and fetching
Smoking and drinking
Copied the soldiers thinking
Wojtek travelled very far
Across the different nations
A diplomat bear of public relations
Then there was the last place
Edinburgh Zoo he finally rested
Forever this fine story will be told
About the bear that went to war
Salute the Wojtek Memorial
In Princes Street Gardens
The symbol of love when in despair
Statue of hope now forever here
© Rose Ann Fraser Ritchie 2017