Prairie Quills Writers' Group hosts successful gala

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By Arlene McKenzie

Taking a walk on the wild side with the Prairie Quills Writers’ Group at their recent gala was exactly what their poster promised – a paw-sitively amazing evening, featuring the ‘Tales of Fur, Feathers and Scales’.

The first half of the program featured a quartet of writers

Irene Bingham, whose story “Ticker Tiger’s Tale”, took us inside the life of a barnyard cat,

Philosophical writer William Gibbs, who is as tied to the prairies as the coyote, read “Wile E. Coyote”.

Joyce Olesen, read “Bovine People I Have Known”, a tale about naming the cattle on the farm with people’s names had listeners nodding and smiling at its familiarity. She also told about preparing to milk a cow and tightening the kickers too tight, resulting in the cow tipping on top of her. This may suffice to dispel the rumour that cow tipping is nothing but a myth and not a leisure activity of rural people.  

Madelon Smid, shared a mesmerizing tale entitled “Buddy”. Smid’s piece was about a boy, a puppy and a broken promise. As is characteristic of Smid’s writing, she took the listener to a deeper place, visiting the dark side of depression. With the line, “She could only hang on to the rope that bound them, and pray he would find his way back to the surface before he dragged her in.” Smid left no doubt in the listener’s mind, just how difficult it was for her character to keep going, never mind keep a promise.

The second half of the program featured, Dianne Miller, Annie Lotochinski, Peggy Worrell and a puppet show featuring Anthea Loran and Tekeyla Friday.

Dianne Miller read, “Grief Counselor”. Tears were shed as this gifted writer shared her story. Miller has a way of delivering the lines that pulls the listener in to feel the grief, see the words in the journal and experience the presence of the cat as she described it.

Following Dianne was Norm Krell, who writes vivid and compelling poetry. Norm read three poems, mesmerizing the listeners with his vivid descriptions.

Annie Lotochinski, the youngest member of the Prairie Quills at only 14 years old, read “Best Friends”. Her story was a tale of connection between a dog and his owner who goes off to war. She is also credited with creating this year’s poster, which may have been at least a part of the reason for the excellent turn out of guests.

“I love to write, but I usually write horror stories,” she shared. “I also love to draw and I drew a picture of a dog, and my story just happened from there.”  

The last reader on the agenda was Peggy Worrell, who read “Betsy and the Bell” a piece based on a true experience. With the help of her husband, Jim, who was one of the characters in the piece; she delivered it with expertise and humour. Listeners were held in suspense anticipating the source of the ringing bell.

The puppet show, which spun two tales “Anansi and the Snake” and “The Wise King” was a delightful added feature to the evening.  Friday and Loran were very adept puppet masters and the changing voices and intonation was definitely believable.

Madelon Smid, Past President of the Prairie Quills Writers’ Group points out the the group boasts a series of talented individuals.

“Each year more members of our group write their way into the winner’s circle, by winning a writing competition or a grant, publishing in anthologies, selling an article, story or poem to a magazine, or selling a book.”

She attributes the success stories of members of the group to coming together once a month to actively write, which has produced measurable results.

“You can describe yourself as a writer, but unless you’re prepared to commit a huge chunk of your time to actually writing, you might never get to be an author. Publication comes with setting a goal and sacrificing to reach it.”

The Prairie Quills Writers’ Group meets the third Tuesday of every month at 7 p.m., in the Meeting Room at Pharmasave. The group is dedicated to support writing in our community and they welcome new members.

Additional information is available from Prairie Quills contact person Irene Bingham at 306-971-3858 or by email at

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