Category Archives: Letters Home

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.

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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2012 – our highlights in words and pictures

It’s been a really full and fun year for ME4Writers, after a short break at the beginning of last year, we were highly commended in Medway’s Culture and Design awards. Here are some of the highlights….

  • In March 2012, as part of a working with schools ‘Royal Opera House Creative Connections‘ scheme, Sam worked with a class of 30 Essex schoolchildren to create an immersive magical experience for the whole school to experience. This took the form of a magical treasure hunt, culminating in the creation of a Wish Tree.
  • Throughout the year, Roy led a number of Rochester writing retreats at coFWD, and a Talking about sci-fi open discussion.
  • Barry (and others) have been walking the Medway, for his Meanderthal – a Medway Miscellany, and writing about it – and the project continues.
  • Our massive guerilla publishing project – The Encyclopaedia Citaecephale, the city without a head, has continued throughout the year, and we distributed the final issues of the fanzine around Medway and further afield. The next step is to edit it and collate it into a book.
  • Barry and Sam did some creative writing teaching for the Medway Archives in July, and discovered some fascinating Medway rumours, stories and facts, in a workshop about using history to inspire creativity.
  • We contributed to the RochLitFest’s Garden Party in July by setting up a vintage clothes stall, Poetic Vintage, that gave away free poems with every purchase.
  • We played our game of Poetrymon on National Poetry Day in October. We hid poems around the 5 Medway towns and left clues on social media to find them.
  • Roy curated a series of open submission sci-fi short story podcasts, Short Encounters, and hosted an event at the Dot Cafe for Halloween.
  • Our exhibition of writing, photos of home by Nikki Price, and illustrations of Rochester streets by Heather Haythornthwaite, Letters Home, ran at Rochester and Walderslade Village libraries throughout November and into December. The exhibition was featured in the Irish Post. We hosted a launch event on 10 November. There is a dedicated blog to record the project
  • Seeing what you say – photography students the University of East London chose Barry’s poem ‘Glow’ for the 2nd year running, for their photo project. Barry performed the poem at their event at Bethnal Green Working Men’s Club.
  • Finally, in December, Sam, Barry, Anne-Marie and Sarah J attended the Medway Culture and Design Awards 2012, where we were Highly Commended!

Thanks to everyone who has contributed to our events, projects and successes last year, especially the writers, photographers and artists. Keep your eyes peeled for further ME4Writers’ projects this year!

News from the ‘Letters Home’ launch

Barry reading a letter
Barry reading a letter

We launched Letters Home at Rochester Library on 10 November 2012 in a 2-hour event with readings, and songs, in several languages!

Sam and Barry  hosted the event which was attended by an enthusiastic and full audience. And Roy recorded the event and made a podcast from it.

Sam and Barry read letters from some of the letter writers who couldn’t attend – ably assisted by Steph Anderson, who read former Medway resident, Tara Moyle’s ‘A Letter Home’ in a faultless Southern accent.

‘Letters Home’ is a project from ME4Writers, which invited Medway residents to write a letter to the place they think of as home. The exhibition is being displayed by Medway Libraries in Rochester and Walderslade Village.

As well as letters, photographs from Medway photographer Nikki Price feature in the exhibition, alongside Medway artist Heather Haythornthwaite’s atmospheric local street scenes.

The idea for the exhibition grew as sometimes there’s a feeling that people just find themselves here. Kent has always been a place that displaced peoples end up in, and that has often been seen as a negative thing, but this exhibition celebrates Medway’s diverse population – as well as letters from writers who are born and bred in Kent, we have had letters from members of the other communities, who have all made their homes here.

Some of our lovely readers read their own letters. Amongst the bi-lingual highlights were Irina Fridman reading her letter in Russian, Sarah Jenkin and Sean Meaney reading poems and a letter in Gaelic and Sam reading the English translation to some letters from children learning Bulgarian. Other readers who read their letters were Sarah March D’angelo, Roy Smith, Jaye Nolan, Nigel Cuming, and Phil Kane, whose new collection of poetry about the Medway ‘Unauthorised Person’ is available to buy now from Cultured Llama.

We have had a brilliant local response to the project – which has included letters from children at the Bulgarian School of the Association of the Bulgarian Community in Rochester, and we are still receiving letters which will be added to our Letters Home blog, at the end of the exhibition.

Sam also ran a creative writing workshop for adults (and one will be run for children on 21 November,) and the responses received from the attendees were very moving. This seems to be a project which has really touched people deeply.

Thanks to those at Rochester library for letting us display our exhibition and hold the launch there! Also thanks to those at Walderslade Village, where our smaller satellite exhibition is running. Thanks also to Carlito Juanito whose houses feature on the bunting and postboxes.

Nikki has taken some photos from the event which will be posted soon.

The ‘Letters Home’ exhibition

Letters Home poster
Poster for the exhibition

This month we have been putting the finishing touches together for the ‘Letters Home’ exhibition.

This project invited residents of Medway (and some from further afield,) to write a letter to the place they think of as home, this has resulted in a collection of evocative and emotional writing, forming the basis for the exhibition. Local photographer Nikki Price, who regularly works with ME4, has taken images of home to as part of the exhibition, and a selection of local artist Heather Haythornthwaite’s atmospheric scenes of Rochester streets will also feature in the Rochester part of the exhibition. It has been a lovely project to organise.

The exhibition runs from Saturday, 3 November – Saturday 15 December at Rochester Community Hub and Saturday, 10 November – Friday, 7 December at Walderslade Village library. The exhibition at Rochester will be slightly bigger. There is a launch event on 10 November at Rochester from 1.30-4pm where we will read some of the letters and there will be additional treats and surprises!

We hope the exhibition will grow and we will add new letters created to it from the workshops that are running, see for information.

After the exhibition all the letters created will be put on a blog as a lasting record.  

Full details about ‘Letters Home’

Photo from 'Letters Home'
One of the the photos of home by Nikki Price Photography.

We are getting into planning the exhibition for November. You still have a few weeks if you would like to submit a letter. You can write a poem, prose or haiku about what home means to you and it will be added to the exhibition. Please email us your submission by 30 September.

‘Letters Home’ is a project curated by Sam, which invited residents of Medway (and further afield) to write a letter to the place they think of as home, this has resulted in a collection of evocative and emotional writing, forming the basis for the exhibition. Local photographer Nikki Price, who regularly works with ME4, has taken images of home to as part of the exhibition, and a selection of local artist Heather Haythornthwaite’s atmospheric scenes of Rochester streets will also feature.

In words, artwork and photos, the exhibition takes you on a journey from the internal (the letters), to the external (Heather’s prints), then back again (Nikki’s photos).

‘I hope that visitors to the exhibition will be inspired to look again closely at where they live and find the beauty in the little things we like about our homes,’ says Sam.

Sam is also running some writing workshops, where you can come along and contribute your own letter to the exhibition.

A launch event where writers will read their work will take place at Rochester Community Hub on 10 November from 1.30pm to 4pm.

Exhibition: Letters Home

Saturday, 3 November – Saturday 15 December: Rochester Community Hub

Saturday, 10 November – Friday, 7 December: Walderslade Village library

Get involved: Workshops

Wednesday 7 November 2-4pm. Rochester Community Hub.
Letters Home: Writing workshop for adults.

Wednesday, 21 November 3.45-4.45 pm. Walderslade Village library.
Letters Home: Workshop for 8-12 year olds.

For more info on the workshops please visit:



‘Letters Home’ exhibition details

We have confirmed our exhibition of the fantastic letters from Medway residents (and some from further afield!) that we received, for November, to be held in Rochester and Walderslade Village libraries.

* Rochester – opens 3 November for a month (closing date TBC)
* Walderslade Village – opens 10 November – 7 December.

There will be a launch event on 10 November in Rochester Library, 1.30pm-4pm, please see publicity nearer to the time.

We have extended the deadline to 30 September – so if you want to send us a letter – please see the original brief.

Letters home – update

Picture of the cover of Letters Home
Letters Home

The ‘Letters Home’ project is nearly finished and it’s looking really lovely.

‘Letters Home’ was an open submission project, asking local residents to write a letter home to the place/person/thing they consider home.

Medway residents responded and we have collected their letters to the place they call home in a booklet – containing some poetry; some prose; some which are real; some which are fictional. All heartfelt.

We are just finalising the booklet, and looking for a venue to hold an exhibition of the letters and home based photos by local photographer Nikki Price. We will give an update as soon as details are arranged.