WATER announces essay contest named after local columnist.
Rosemary Ganley The Peterborough Examiner November 24, 2022
For many years as a high school English teacher, I required kids to write papers, sometimes creative, often analytical. Then one day at St Peter’s, a student asked me: “Ms. Ganley, you are always asking us to write and submit our work for feedback. Do you do any of it yourself?
Along with poet Mary Oliver’s advice in the final line of her short poem, “Instructions on Living a Life,” I became motivated to try such a thing: express myself on a current topic and see if I could find a publisher. Oliver had written just seven words in this poem: “Pay attention/ Be astonished/ Tell about it.” I began collecting my thoughts, composing short pieces and sending them to magazines and papers.
Hence the seven years of regular columns for the Peterborough Examiner. They number almost 400 now, including 22 in 1995 after my experience at the United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, which cementing my conviction as a feminist.
Someone once said wryly, “I never know what I think, until I say it out loud.” This has been true for me. I never know what I think, until I get it on paper.
Fast forward to November 2022. During COVID-19, I found great solace in the four-times-a-month offerings via Zoom produced by an American organization in Silver Spring, MD near Washington, called WATER: Women’s Alliance for Theology, Ethics and Ritual. WATER was founded 40 years ago by two women, Mary E. Hunt and Diann Neu, who have advanced degrees in theology but instead of teaching at an university, wanted to concentrate on social change and on building a community. It has blossomed into an influential agent for good in America.
At any given WATER session, there are about 45 women from all over the world. I have personally met only a few. But to my delight and surprise, WATER has announced an essay contest named after me with a January 15, 2023 deadline called “Feminists Change the World 650 Words at a Time.” To quote from the blurb, ”Rosemary Ganley is a Peterborough, Ontario feminist, activist, and writer whose weekly columns in the Peterborough Examiner reach a wide audience and make waves.”
I’m not entirely sure that’s true, but the essay contest is good news. It calls for “650 well-chosen words related to feminist work for social change that springs from spiritual commitments. Politics and the arts, sports and theology, local and global happenings are all fair game. Write boldly and clearly. Make it accessible to the general reader, with a clear argument while conveying a sense of calm and hope.”
Then WATER asserts, “Graduate programs in religion do not teach this kind of writing, but we find it a great way to share the wealth of progressive scholarship, the kind of article readers are eager to post on social media, use in teaching and discussion groups, and get into the hands of local people who create conscious communities and vote.”
Real money is involved. That is gratifying, because I am aware of the dire straits most writers live in. Three prizes of $650 will be announced in March, 2023. That’s U.S. dollars! WATER expresses its gratitude to some anonymous donor. I’m left to muse on that.
WATER will offer a “careful reading of each piece and suggestions for next steps in content and publication. It is an extension of our teaching and networking commitments,” they say. They invite writers to consider where they will try to get it published, whether a winner or not. "Signal your intended audience” is the term.
Send your submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org I am happy with this project, because I believe that many sensible and mature people in both countries are too silent in these days of lies and hate-farming. Let’s get their voices out there.
"Gleanings" is Rosemary Ganley's new book. You can purchase directly from the author at email@example.com or from >Amazon<