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Moods -- exploring inner thoughts; Dunn County Writers publish booklet of creative writing

The Dunn County Writers are celebrating the publication of their fifth annual booklet titled “Moods.”  The collection of essays, poems and short stories explores five moods that start with the letter M: Mysterious, melancholy, mad, merry and mellow.

“As surely as wind, rain, snow and land define a rural North Dakota’s experior life, its his or her moods that form an interior landscape,” said Jennifer Strange, founder and executive director.

The writers who submitted works to the booklet included Patricia Bailey, Colette “Koko” Gjermundson, Ruth Granfor, Paulette Haldeman, Terry M. Moore, Shirley Oja, Jennifer L. Strange, Shawn Thompson and Verna Wolf.

The Dunn County Writers  group was organized five year ago as a nonprofit group of grass roots writers. It’s origin is credited to a writers’ workshop, sponsored by the North Dakota Humanities Council in November of 2013. A dozen or so of the participants formed the core group that currently has 15 members.

“Our mission is to build community around the cultural arts and to preserve a written legacy of the people of our region,” Strange said.

As a mission project, the group sponsors a visiting writers’ series once a year when they bring in a published author to do a reading and hold a workshop for the community. This year, the workshop was held in June.

The writers meet the first Monday of every month at the Dunn County Museum.

“At those meetings, we hold a guided writing exercise -- like a mini-workshop. At the beginning of the year, we set the theme for the year and that theme is what becomes our booklets,” she said.

To kick off a meeting, the writers brainstorm about the monthly topic -- words that describe the feeling being explored.

The topic of ‘Merry’ was super interesting, continued Strange.

“Verna Wolf of Killdeer led our guided writing exercise. She looked at different layers meaning merriment and shared it with the group,” she said.

Wolf finished one of her essays, “Merry Is as Merry Does” with a quote from Martin Luther: “If there is no laughter in Heaven, I don’t want to go there.”

Ruth Granfor defined merriment differently in “Where I am in Life.”

She wrote,  “Are you twenty-five yet?” a friend asked me in a joking voice. “I’ve been past that twice and working on my third time,” I replied. We both had a laugh. My friend is in his nineties.”

Colette “Koko” Gjermundson, who currently is the Writers’ president, is among the charter members.

“I thought it was an awesome opportunity for a person like me when the North Dakota Humanities Council brought a writing workshop to Dunn County. It was a chance to develop one’s writing passion along others with the same interests in one’s own backyard,” she said.

The theme for the 2019 booklet will be discussed at the November meeting.

“We want to see what people want to do going forward and make loose plans for 2019,” Gjermundson  said.

Only a limited number of booklets were printed, but they may be previewed at the Dickinson Area Public Library and North Dakota State Library:

The 2014  booklet is titled, “Winter Whispers -- Holidays Past, Present and Future”  and 2015 is titled “A Pen for all Seasons -- Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter.” The 2016 title is “Journeys North Dakota Badlands and Beyond” and 2017 is “North Dakota Notebook Life on the High Plains.”

Rita Ennen, director  of the Dickinson Area Public Library, accepted the gift of “Moods” from Jennifer Strange, saying, “It’s a wonderful opportunity for us. One of the important functions of a library is to preserve your local history -- what people are writing and feeling about at a point in time, not just people far away, but those who live here.”

‘Moods” will be secured in the North Dakota history section of the library. It may be read at the library, but not checked out.

“Ten years from now, if something is missing, it would be very difficult to replace… not that we don’t want people to have them, we do, but we preserve these things in a little different way,” she said.

This will be Strange’s last opportunity to edit the booklets, as she is leaving the state.

“Personally and professionally, as a journalist and as a creative writer and communications specialist, my passion has always been to find sustainable solutions for a small rural population when it comes to marketing and promotions. So to have met these creative writers and people like Rita Ennen at the library here and people at Dickinson State like President Thomas Mitzel, Peter Grimes and Margaret Barnhart, has been a career highlight and a life highlight.”

To learn more about the Writers, attend the next meeting from 6-8 p.m. Monday, Nov. 5, at the Dunn County Museum.