If you were part of the large audience who attended the Publishers Panel at the Milton Rhodes Arts Center in the spring, you probably saw a relatively new face: Deborah Johnson Wood, the Mistress of Ceremonies and one of the driving forces behind organizing the program. “The publishing panel was my first event,” says Deborah, “and it was truly a team effort with the support and many ideas from Christy Vance and Ashley Carmichael. We were so surprised and pleased with the huge turnout!”
Deborah, who moved with her husband Tom from Michigan about a year ago, says the Winston Salem Writers have offered her a community of friendship and support. It started from her first encounter with the group at a Writers Night Out before she had even officially joined.
Since then, she has particularly enjoyed the Poetry Critique Group. “It is important to me to be involved with a group that understands and speaks a common language [poetry].” She enjoys being with people who talk about phrases and rhythm and poetic forms, people who read other poets and who analyze and appreciate the process of writing. It is reassuring, she says, to be discussing some aspect of a poem and to see nodding heads, to know others “get it.”
In Michigan, Deborah was a member of the Peninsula Writers and a poetry critique group that followed the Dunning Method, promoted by University of Michigan professor Stephen Dunning, in which authors listen (without speaking) to group discussions of their poetry.
Deborah admits it was an adjustment at first to find that the Winston-Salem group encouraged interaction among all participants including the poet. She acknowledges that there are strengths in both approaches. What she especially likes about the current group is a welcomed level of trust that is deep-rooted and comforting, offering a safe-place to bring poems on any subject.
In addition to writing poetry and organizing events, Deborah is an editor and proof
reader, and she enjoys it. For eight years, she was an editor and writer for Rapid Growth, a weekly online magazine promoting arts, innovation and development in West Michigan. She would like to continue that type of work, here, in Winston Salem.
A quote from one of her earlier Facebook pages sums up her attitude on the subject: “I know this is totally geeky, but I am having a BLAST today creating a Table of Contents, List of Figures, List of Maps, and List of Tables for an involved street development study I'm proofreading/editing. I can't help it -- I love doing the details!”
Deborah is multi-talented. She is also a musician, seamstress, designer and entrepreneur. Her line of hand-made pocketbooks and purses is currently available at Eclections in Kernersville.
As far as her writing is concerned, she plans to continue attending the Poetry Critique Group and WNO, and says she is “excited to be able to work behind the scenes as part of the WSW events committee. [She] can't wait to see what events will be on the 2015/2016 calendar.”