New book celebrates work of poets, storytellers and songwriters

Vine Rhymes chair Anne Tener, founder Helen Latimer-Hanah, Head Librarian Karen Schecter, and Vine Rhymes co-founder Beth Bernhardt.
Members of the Smiths Falls-based Vine Rhymes writers’ group visited the Smiths Falls Public Library on March 14 to present a copy of their new book, Through the Ages. From left are Vine Rhymes chair Anne Tener, founder Helen Latimer-Hanah, Head Librarian Karen Schecter, and Vine Rhymes co-founder Beth Bernhardt. Photo Credit Chris Must.
Posted on: June 2, 2017

Chris Must

It took nearly a decade to complete, but members of a Smiths Falls group of poets, composers  and storytellers can take pride in a new book that will share their work with a wider audience.

Vine Rhymes, a group founded in 2005 by Helen Latimer-Hanah and Beth Bernhardt, offers writing enthusiasts of all ages an opportunity to gather monthly and share their common interests. Although it exists mainly to offer support and encouragement, the members of the group have frequently accepted opportunities to present their songs, stories and poems at fundraisers, coffee shops, churches, festivals and other local events.

Members agreed early in 2008 that it would be a good idea to produce a compilation of their work. Latimer-Hanah said most of the material was inputted into her computer and nearing completion by the following year. But, “for a number of unforeseeable reasons, the work was put on hold until a few months after I retired in June of 2015,” she added.

Work stopped completely for two months last summer when Latimer-Hanah went on what she described as a long dreamed-of trek to Dawson City.

Although various obstacles presented themselves along the way, “Through the Ages” has been completed, and 200 copies were printed early this year at Impression Printing in Smiths Falls.

“Of the 200 copies we had printed, well over 100 were spoken for before the ink was dry,” said Latimer-Hanah.

One copy of the 200-page book was presented to the Smiths Falls Public Library on Tuesday, March 14.

The book features the work of 31 contributors from Smiths Falls and area, as well as a few from as far away as Fort McMurray, Alta. and Victoria, BC. Material includes some stories and song lyrics as well as poems. Among the stories is one by Bill MacPherson, also known as a local school board trustee.

“I think it’s particularly exciting for the poets to have it published,” said Anne Tener, current chair of Vine Rhymes.

“This is your opportunity to be introduced to some folks right here in our community – and a few from beyond – who take the time to scribble down their thoughts,” said Latimer-Hanah. “Words can take you to places you have never been, amuse, or bring you to tears.”

In a message at the beginning of the book, Tener wrote that Vine Rhymes strives to be inclusive and accepting of all members, and that the group “has flourished with many different types of people, each one exploring and enjoying the creative process.”

During a typical Vine Rhymes meeting, members discuss a variety of common concerns such as working through mental blocks, writing styles, copyrighting, publishing, and numerous challenges faced by writers. Over the years the members have attended and hosted numerous writers’ workshops.

This articles first appeared in the April issue of Hometown News