By Laetitia Clayton - email@example.com
WINCHESTER -- There's a new place in town where writers can go when they need a little inspiration or support. Or, they can just sit quietly and listen.
The Downtown Poets of Winchester, which meets on the first Friday of the month at Remember Yourself on Braddock Street, offers a workshop-type atmosphere with a focus on poetry, says the group's founder, Carolyn Wolfe. And, of course, it's a place simply to be heard.
"It's absolutely free-style," Wolfe says of the group. "It's honoring each other's voice, keeping quiet when others are reading -- and anything goes."
For example, she says, some people have studied writing and poetry while others have always just written.
That's the case with Lisa D'Arcangelis and Christy Reffner. Both are members of the Downtown Poets and, like Wolfe, they also work at Remember Yourself, an eclectic shop that offers used books, jewelry, art, massage, reiki and more.
"I'm always writing something down," says Reffner, a reiki master who adds that writing has long been an outlet for her.
"Sometimes I turn it into poetry," she says.
On a recent morning at the store, Reffner read aloud a poem about "wasted yesterdays," which she says came from "my mother's voice in my head."
Wolfe says a lot of poetry is sad, because people turn to it when they need to express pain in some way.
"It's when you're broken up with, when you're contemplative," she says. "It's more like the voice of your heart coming out. Poetry is actually your heart speaking."
Writers who come to the meetings can get ideas and suggestions for their work, and also have a chance to network with other writers, Wolfe says.
"We talk about the back story [of the poems]," she says. "And we came up with a title for one lady's poem."
Wolfe, herself a published author, says the group is a reincarnation of a former writers group that met at the Book of Knowledge on Loudoun Street last year. Those meetings were more multimedia, with musicians and other artists. That store closed in December, and the group moved to The Lord's Chapel on Greenwood Road, she says.
When partners Nate Cravener and Dorian Brown opened Remember Yourself in June, it seemed a natural home for the new writers group, especially with its healing energy in the air, Wolfe says.
"It's a really creative, healing place," she says.
Cravener, a licensed massage therapist, says he and Brown support the writers because it goes along with their idea of healing.
"People have issues and also people have joys they want to share with each other," he says. "Writing is self-expression. It lets people heal. Self-expression in general is very much needed in today's society."
D'Arcangelis, a certified crystal/light therapist and singer, says writing is empowering for her.
"It's also about self-discovery, too," she says. "You realize how you really feel. It's like peeling back the onion."
Other than meeting on the first Friday of the month, members of the group also read their poetry at The Lord's Chapel on the second Saturday of each month. That night includes plays, musicians and various other art forms.
"This is where you work," Reffner says of Remember Yourself. "[The chapel is] where you show it off."
Wolfe encourage writers or anyone who just wants to listen to stop by the shop on first Fridays from 6 to 7:30 p.m.
"Don't be afraid," she offers as a word of advice to those who would like to attend. "Come and listen. Everybody needs to be heard.
"If you have something to say, say it here. It's a very supportive environment."
The Downtown Poets of Winchester meets from 6 to 7:30 p.m. on the first Friday of the every month at Remember Yourself, at 18 S. Braddock St. in Winchester. The next meeting will be this Friday. For more information, call 722-6283.