We meet up to read our pre-written work out loud. There are no restrictions other than to adhere to a pre-agreed topic, usually a one word prompt or some obscure reference that has spawned from our collective subconscious. And a limit of 2 A4 pages or we'd be up all night! But you know what? It always produces a pyroclastic surge of creativity.
For example, last month's diverse topic suggestions were: SCAR, STRAWBERRY ICE-CREAM and MULTIPLE OCCUPANCY. And from our hive mind a terrific collection of pieces were produced. In pure coincidence two Pantoums were offered (more about this form of poetry later), a moving autobiographical piece about a grandchild (yes - there were tears), a sinister clock passing judgement on a first date, emotional scars, physical scars and biological haikus! Plus nostalgic hankerings to old haunts, famous dead painters and classic romantic poems.
What these gatherings show every time, without fail, is the mysterious and wondrous workings of the human brain to create such stories from one or two starting points. One or two members of the group sometimes write their piece on the night (and it's often sickeningly good!).
Therefore, I will defend any critic of the writing group. Some say, 'If you want to write, get on and write. You don't need to join a group to do that.' No, you don't need to. However, a good writer will respect and appreciate others' writing; they can learn how others' have interpreted a topic; become more confident in reading work out to an audience; and connect with other writers.
Plus, every writer needs a deadline and, with the undivided attention of a captive audience, you get to release what you've written into the big, wide world instead of leaving it to fester in an old notebook.
I decided to write a pantoum for this meeting (as did my friend, Julie). This form lends itself to repetition of certain lines making up a formulaic poem. My attempt is shown here: