There’s a new book in town, and 22 local poets, prose writers and lyricists penned it.
The Northeast Georgia Writers recently published their first anthology since 1986, and have 770 copies to distribute at a book signing to be held Thursday afternoon at the Northeast Georgia History Center at Brenau University.
Entitled "Our Journey," the 2007 anthology depicts the journey of life through 63 stories and poems categorized as preparing for the journey, and places, people and pictures on the journey. The 82-page collection’s cover features a photo taken by Ryan Harris depicting a fiery orange sunset illuminating the placid waters of Lake Lanier.
Editor-in-Chief Laura Harris said that it took her three months to prepare the works for print and to design the book. She worked with her son, Ryan, in developing the artwork between the covers and the photo on the cover itself.
"I really enjoyed this experience and am thrilled with the response to ‘Our Journey,’" she said. "It’s been very positive."
Marsha Hopkins, vice president of the Northeast Georgia Writers, said that the writing group currently has about 30 members who range in age from early 30s to mid-90s. The band of writers assemble on the first Wednesday of each month at St. Paul’s Methodist Church on Washington Street.
"Anybody’s welcome to visit," Hopkins said. "We welcome members, men and women, of all ages. The only requirement for membership is that you have a love of writing."
Hopkins said that the group invites writers or magazine editors to speak at each meeting. The writers’ group also holds a writing conference every other fall that attracts writers from all over the country. Children’s authors, poets, novelists and lyricists meet for one day to celebrate and share their writing over a luncheon.
The Northeast Georgia Writers also host an annual banquet in the late spring where members’ works are reviewed by outside judges who are poetry teachers or poets themselves.
Hopkins said that the group has been meeting since the club was started in 1973 at Brenau University. One of the original founders, Jane Eve Wilheit, a champion of local arts, passed away in the spring of this year. The six editors of the 2007 anthology dedicated the collection to her memory.
"Requiem for a Matriarch," written by Hopkins, is a poem included in the anthology that honors the life and charitable works of Wilheit.
The writers who contributed to "Our Journey" share their pain, joy and memories as well as depictions of the thrill of living in the country, canoeing, or their take on the streets of downtown Gainesville.
Hopkins said that publishing an anthology takes a lot of work, which explains why the group hasn’t released an anthology since 1986. She credits Northeast Georgia Writers President Mary Ellen Collier as a catalyst for seeing the publication through to fruition.
"The anthology means a lot to me," Hopkins said. "Sometimes people just open their hearts when writing, and they share their innermost feelings. It’s a very personal craft, and you really get to know people through their writing."