Category Archives: fanzine

2013 – our highlights in words and images

Happy New Year to all our followers and friends! 2013 was (again) a busy year for ME4Writers.

ME4Writers was started in 2009 by Sam Fentiman-Hall and since then, the collective has worked with over 500 members of the Kent community (focussing on Medway), on over 40 literary projects and events, with the aim of bringing more words to Medway.

ME4Writers is a loose grouping of Medway writers who work on different projects, also doing their own writing projects individually, though is held together by Sam and Barry Fentiman-Hall. Writers and creatives will join us for one or more projects at a time, and most of our projects and events are open and accessible to all. (ME4Writers is now part of Wordsmithery, a literary development company set up by Sam, which also encompasses 17Percent, an organisation which supports female playwrights. www.wordsmithery.info)

Some examples of the sort of events we have run are:  poetry open mics in alternative venues; new writing shows at the Dickens Festiva;, an open exhibition about memory and place – ‘Letters Home’ – in two Medway libraries; a Medway-wide poetry treasure hunt game for National Poetry Day; creative writing workshops and tutorials; took ‘possibly the world’s smallest writing retreat’ to the Fuse Festival 2013; published an anthology of creative writing about cities; and created a walking-writing tour of Rochester and other events for the inaugural Rochester Literature Festival.

A few highlights from this year:

  • May-June: The WordShed at Fuse Festival – we received a Spark Commission from Medway Council to pilot our new writing shed. We lead four creative writing workshops in Strood, Rochester, Walderslade Village and Chatham libraries in advance of the festival. We also made a printed booklet The Seed Catalogue with highlights from the workshops, which was given out at the festival, and online we published The Seed Compendium, a collection of everything (legible) from the Fuse Festival weekend. Find out more about the WordShed on the WordShed blog.
  • July and October: Rochester LitFest – we created a number of literary delights for the new festival. In July at the Garden Party we did a version of WordShed lite in the garden at The Good Intent. Then in October, at the festival proper, we played Poetrymon – our poetry treasure hunt game (in the pouring rain) on National Poetry Day, launched our first full-length book (published by Wordsmithery) City without a head, and led a walking/writing tour of Rochester. For 17Percent, Sam also produced a theatre show; She Writes – What’s through the door?
  •  City without a head: This is the culmination of a long standing ME4Writers’ project. Extracts from the anthology were published in parts as part of a guerilla distribution scheme, where we hid issues of a limited edition fanzine around Medway and further afield (some went to Sweden, Australia and America!) Wordsmithery launched City without a head on 8 October 2013, you can still buy a limited edition issue from Wordsmithery. In November we read extracts from the book on Fizzer’s Radio Show, which you can hear here.

    “this anthology is wonderfully enthralling and the passion that oozes from each page is unquestionable. It’s not an easy read – some of it will make your head spin in the sheer density of its intimacy (I now feel like I know each author personally) but it is rewarding.” **** Female Arts

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Thanks for a fantastic Rochester Literature Festival!

Photo of the Poetrymon card
Photo by coFWD

What a busy 10 days we had at the start of October, when ME4Writers were happy to be part of the first Rochester Literature Festival.

We started the week on 3 October (National Poetry Day) with Poetrymon – our poetry treasure hunt game. (Picture shows one poem, found in coFWD.) We hid unique, original poem cards around Medway and left cryptic clues online for readers to follow. What we love about Poetrymon is the fact that most of the time we don’t know who finds the cards, (and in fact, sometimes we hope they will be a bit baffled,) but our main hope is that they enjoy the poetry! You can see more about the poets on our Poetrymon page.

Photo of actors dressed as aliens
Aliens, a bull and a bear and a red herring sandwich…

On 5 October, Sam produced a theatre show as part of ‘A night at the theatre’. She Writes: What’s through the door? was a performance of 17Percent’s 4-star rated set of short plays based on a story by HG Wells. The plays, written by Whoop’n’wail, Sam Hall and Sarah Hehir, all have a sci-fi/surreal bent to them and invite the audience to explore other worlds – which fitted in fantastically with the festival’s theme.

“Three plays in one, each delightful and mysterious. The pieces are beautifully and intelligently connected by an overarching narrative.” **** Everything Theatre

“Both performances were astounding, so well written, produced & directed. It felt like a London quality night out in Rochester, I was totally in the world of all the stories.”

Photo of Barry Fentiman reading at the launch
Barry reading at the launch

Our next event was the launch of our book on 8 October – City Without a Head – an anthology of poetry, prose and found literature, initially published over two years as a free fanzine. The collection refined, added and developed the ideas in our initial City Project (aka Encyclopaedia Citaecephale), and is published in a limited edition of 200 with gorgeous illustrations by award-winning artist Victoria Wainwright,(available from www.wordsmithery.info).

We played readings bingo, randomly generated readings chosen by the audience, ate sweets and listened to music with a city theme by the brilliant 3D.

“an exceptionally refreshing and eloquent anthology… wonderfully enthralling and the passion that oozes from each page is unquestionable.” **** Femalearts.com

Our final event of the Festival was our walking/writing tour of Rochester on 10 October – Write Around Town. Through a series of locally themed writing exercises, we asked writers to do the thing that ME4Writers seem to be obsessed by: looking at our locality from a different angle.

“Stimulating exchange of ideas and writing exercises to take away and work on.”

“I now view Rochester through different eyes.”

Thanks to Rochester Literature Festival for a fantastic first festival.

The Word Shed at Fuse over… watch this space for what’s next!

Girl writing on pavement paper
Pavement stories…

We had a fantastic response to our project  The Word Shed at the Fuse Festival. We had almost 100 people from ages 3 (with some help from mum!) to 90, who took some time out from the festival (and the sometimes rainy/windy weather), to sit in the warmth and shelter of the shed to do a bit of writing. A lot of those who visited had never had a go at creative writing before, or hadn’t really done any since school, and told us they really enjoyed the opportunity to share their stories.

For those little ones who weren’t quite up to writing in the shed, we also had large pieces of paper on the pavement in Gillingham and Chatham, where they could express themselves in words or pictures, and we had about 30 children writing and drawing on the pavement paper during the two days, with one visitor telling us she had come specially from Gillingham to Chatham the next day, as her children had enjoyed being at the shed so much!

On the last day of Fuse, we launched our Seed Catalogue booklet. This is a creative writing pamphlet containing a selection of writing done during our creative writing workshops (WordShops) in the run up to the festival. We handed out a copy to anyone who came to the shed who wanted one, and also did some readings from this new publication. A few remaining copies will shortly be available from the libraries where we did our WordShops. You can also download it from The Word Shed blog.

Picture of booklets
The Seed Catalogue

We will be typing up and getting all the photos together this week and next, and hopefully have a full PDF of everything we could type up ready to download by the end of the month.Here are some bits of feedback we received:

“This is an excellent, inclusive event. I really enjoyed it and so did my daughter!”

“Being under pressure to think is something I’ve not experienced since exams a decade or so ago and is a singularly uncomfortable experience… But quite good fun!”

“More local artists to be included in the Fuse Festival – Wonderful Word Shed – more, more, more!”

“I heart Word Shed. I think it is cool and fun. I would love to see it next year.”

“We only came to Chatham today because the kids enjoyed the Word Shed at Gillingham yesterday.”

“It’s a wonderful idea, I will come back with the grandchildren.”

Once again, thanks to Fuse festival (The Word Shed was developed with the aid of a Spark Commission), and to Passmores who loaned us the shed for the weekend.

First of the Short Encounters sci-fi podcasts available!

Short Encounters #1 cover
Short Encounters #1 pamphlet

You can download the first of ME4Writers’ curated sci-fi podcasts for your aural pleasure. There are also tunes from local musicians Porlie Eidolon and James Feist. Download it here.

You can also download the PDF pamphlet featuring stories from PR Pope, Sam Hall, Porlie Eidolon and Roy Smith for your visual pleasure. Download it here.

Encyclopaedia Citaecephale – update

The Encyclopaedia Citacephale has been a long-running project with a rolling list of Medway-based contributors. We are nearing completion to the project, as Sam puts the final touches to the layout of issue 8.

photo of all covers to issue 7
Issue 8 on its way…

The Encyclopaedia was born last year when Moogie Wonderland invited us to do some writing inspired by an encyclopedia created by Georges Bataille. The project grew as we expanded the writings we had done for Moogie Wonderland.

We are trying to capture and define the nature and essence of city-ness in a collection of creative writing.

Limited edition free issues of the Encyclopaedia have been left around the Medway towns (and further afield!) for people to randomly enjoy.

Once the final issue is completed we will be collating a ‘best of’ issue together, and doing some sort of event. Watch this space…

Encyclopaedia Sampler

Hello there. As our encyclopaedia project approaches the final issues, we’ve put together a downloadable little Sampler – or pick it up from various places in Kent if you want to see it the way it was intended, all folded up and pocket-sized.

The next issue should be out… soon.

Picture of the sampler
ME4's Sampler