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Mike Smith "BHD and Me" 16th Mar 22

Today we welcomed Mike Smith who is a writer living “on the edge of England” where he writes poetry, essays, and short stories. His work has been widely published and performed in the UK, USA and Hong Kong.

He began by telling us he writes under two names. Mike always knew he was adopted but it was over fifty years before he discovered his birth name was Brindley Hallam Dennis; since then he has published work under both names.

We heard about the history of story writing; stories are a very ancient form, probably even earlier than poetry. The first stories were not written down initially, they were told and there would inevitably be some differences in the retelling. Mike told us about the mechanics of writing and how he approaches his own story writing. He read excerpts from some of his series of short stories featuring “Kowalski” and telling us how the “character” came to be. As he explained to us, Kowalski is less a character, more a mode of speech who bears more than a passing resemblance to Mike himself.

The first two stories featured the early incarnation of Kowalski and his wife Mildred. They were highly amusing and a bit naughty but Mike feels after more than twenty years they are a little dated these days. His last Kowalski story was written much more recently and is set in Carlisle. This told us the story of “The Cursing Stone” and the “Bishop’s Curse”; again very funny and beautifully told by Mike in full Kowalski mode. A light hearted story in a local setting by this engaging Cumbrian writer was a very fitting way to round off the afternoon and was appreciated by all present.