What’s in a Name? Would a Shebeen by Any Other Name be as Intriguing?

“The Algonquin Round Table”, by Al Hirschfeld

“The Algonquin Round Table”, by Al Hirschfeld

A few years ago, the group regularly met in the tiny, upstairs room of the Irish Heather that was called “The Shebeen” (for the origins of that word head here), and thus the name was applied to the literary group which we have today.

Today, however, the Irish Heather has moved across the road, the room is now its own Shebeen Whisk(e)y House out the back of the gastro-pub, and the group mainly meets at the Revel Room a few streets west from ‘The Heather’. The name itself has never meant much more than the location of origin, and doesn’t reflect its raison d’etre: to exchange information and promote the arts of writing in all forms, be it journalism, novels, poetry, plays, or marketing of all those.

So: how do people feel about any of the following options:

  • The Vancouver Algonquin Group (after the original one)
  • The Vancouver Bloomsbury Group (after the original one)
  • The Vancouver Literary Circle (which is dull, but somewhat self-explanatory)
  • Keep the extant name
  • [insert your own suggestion here]

Anyone…? Anyone…? A what kind of revolution…?

My feeling here is that what we have is the opportunity to create a central group and/or monthly event where people can discuss their trials and tribulations, exchange intelligence and information, and generally enjoy fellowship with their fellow travellers in the hacking together of words into paragraphs, as well as promotion of them therefore.

The idea of this group has always been to create a group for professionals and semi-pros who use words to gather, but the active welcoming of people other than novelists and short-story writers has met with less-than-the desired results. Where are the playwrights, the non-fiction writers, the journalists, the publishers, the book-sellers, the editors, the newspaper people, the marketing people, and so on? Is this partly because the name ill-befits our purpose? What do people think of that as a solution? Do you think it simply is a good idea, simply from a marketing standpoint so as to attract ‘fresh brains’* to the monthly meetings?

* mmmm… brainz…!

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One thought on “What’s in a Name? Would a Shebeen by Any Other Name be as Intriguing?

  1. To be honest, I never EVER liked “The Shebeen Club” because you’re right, it ties us to a place when we’re really an intellectual, not geographically-based, bunch. But I also dislike “The Vancouver Whatever” for exactly the same reason.

    Also, I’m allergic to names that play up how second-string they are, eg “The Vancouver Nobel Committee” “The Vancouver World Series” and, yes, “The Vancouver Algonquin Group”.

    I was shocked, SHOCKED I TELL YOU at the number of people who were members but who’d never heard of the Algonquin Round Table. You will be, too.

    I suggest something original, without “Vancouver” in it, as we may someday grow beyond Vancouver and have chapters elsewhere. Why think small?

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