Category Archives: Poetrymon

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.

Poetrymon preparations

Medway from the sky
Flying over the Medway

In case you haven’t played Poetrymon before – here is some info about it. Poetrymon was invented for National Poetry Day 2011 by Sam Hall. It is an interactive treasure hunt game played around Medway, where the prizes are unique handmade poem cards.

The cards will be hidden by ME4Writers in a variety of places in Medway and we will post clues on this website and also Tweet and put them on Facebook (join ME4Writers group to follow on FB). The clues will be live from 12 o’clock lunchtime on 3 October.

This will be the third time we have played Poetrymon and we are happy to be playing it as a part of the Rochester Lit Fest (RLF). Which opens on the same day! (More info here.)

So, we have made the cards and now we are gathering together poems from our local poet friends and associates. The theme this year for National Poetry Day is water – so we’ve tried to keep to a watery theme (though sometimes this is quite loosely applied!)

On National Poetry Day (Thursday 3 October) you will be able to follow the clues to find our unique poetry cards. The clues will only be online from 12 o’clock lunchtime on that day on a tab of this site called Poetrymon13. You can also follow clues on Twitter if you follow @the7thtraveller, or on Facebook if you join our group (ME4Writers).

We have a system of initials for identifying the author of your poem. If you would like to hear/see more work by the writers below – they are also taking part in some ME4Writers’ events for the RLF (see links for more).

The key to the poets and a brief bio are below:

MD: Maggie Drury is an unrelenting writer. Her play NOT KNOWING WHO WE ARE was performed at the Blue Elephant Theatre, Camberwell in 2007. She is currently working on a novel and a full-length play.

BF: Barry Fentiman is a Medway-based poet and mythogeographer who performs around the South East. His writing has been published in The Medway Broadside, The Irish Post, Stories from songs, The Seed Catalogue and City without a head. Barry is also involved in running ME4’s other literary projects for the RLF. He will be co-running the Write Around Town workshop (10 October), and co-hosting the launch of City without a head (8 October).

SH: Sam Hall founded ME4Writers in 2009. She is a playwright whose plays have been performed internationally, and her writing has been published in The Irish Post, The Lock, Theatre and Performance, WOWKent, Stories from songs, and many online magazines. She is the editor of City without a head, ME4Writers’ book being launched on 8 October.  She also runs 17Percent, an organisation to promote equality in theatre writing, through which she is producing a show She Writes: What’s through the door? for the Rochester Literature Festival, as part of ‘A night at the theatre’. (5 October.)

HS: Sarah Hehir teaches English, Drama and Creative Writing in schools and prisons. She was shortlisted for The Nick Darke award 2012 is the winner of The 2013 Writer’s Prize sponsored by the BBC Writersroom. Her play BANG UP was broadcast on Radio Four on 8 August 2013. Sarah’s play THE FOURTH CIRCLE forms part of She Writes ‘A night at the theatre’ and also her radio play will be read as part of the evening on 5 October.

SMJ: SM Jenkin is former chair of the Medway Mermaids, and has had work published in several anthologies including The Mermaid, Medway Festival Fringe, the Medway Messenger, and in publications including Touchstone, Blithe Spirit, and City without a head. SM’s short plays have been performed at She Writes, and the Lounge on the Farm festival 2012.

AMJ: Anne-Marie Jordan is the former treasurer of the Medway Mermaids, she has had work published in several anthologies including The Mermaid, Sea Shanties and Siren Songs, Hauntings, and collections including Did I Tell You? 131 poems for Children in Need, The Seed Catalogue, City without a head and Not Only The Dark.

PK: Philip Kane is an award-winning writer, storyteller and artist. He is a native of the Medway Towns and the area provides a setting for much of his work. A founding member of the London Surrealist Group, over the past 30 years he has built up an international reputation, publishing and exhibiting in a number of countries including Spain and the USA. We are delighted to be using some of Phil’s poems from his collection Unauthorised Person published by Cultured LLama.

LSM: Sarah March was born in Chatham and now resides in Rochester with her three sons and guinea pig. In between she has lived in Italy and France,
and the past, which is a foreign country.

TM: Tara Moyle
teaches college writing courses at William Paterson University and is currently working on a book of personal essays. She has published poems, art reviews and a blog, Bright Purple Rain Boots, about her expat time in Medway. Publishing credits include AGNI journal, diode, Armchair Shotgun, Yemassee, Brilliant Corners, Nidus, City without a head and online magazines including The Medway Broadside. She lives outside New York with her husband and two tabbies, Lucy and Toby. Tara will be joining us at the launch of City without a head by the magic of technology! (8 October, Ye Arrow. City without a head is published by Wordsmithery Books.)

RS: Roy Smith lives in the Medway Towns, where he works with young people and spends a lot of time writing nonsense. Most of his writing happens at night and other inconvenient moments, when he is regularly interrupted by the desire to play old video games. He also enjoys playing with audio, sound, podcasting and occasionally music, as well as getting himself involved in interesting things. Roy is also producing an interactive adventure for the Rochester Literature Festival – The Skywatcher Investigation. (Info here.)

See you soon! Happy hunting!

ME4 go mad for literary fun this October with the Roch Lit Fest!

We are really happy to be involved with the inaugural Rochester Literature Festival (RLF), and Sam is producing several live lit events for it. The RLF is a great idea, there are a lot of festivals that go on in Medway, but none that really focus on literature. (Of course, you can say but what about the Dickens Festival?, but that doesn’t deal in living authors and new work, and also doesn’t have much of a participatory element, unless you like dressing up…)

For the RLF, ME4 are producing three literature events (and also a theatre show, as part of Sam’s other lit dev project, 17Percent). The events are varied, and range from a walking/writing tour of Rochester, to the launch of our very first proper full-length book, with a healthy dose of our yearly poetry treasure hunt Poetrymon, and a night of new plays by women thrown in for good measure.

We kick off with Poetrymon – our yearly poetry treasure hunt around Medway. This year, the poems will have a watery theme. The poems are unique, so follow the clues and find yourself an individual piece of poem-art. (3 October)

On 5 October, see some new writing by women, in ‘A night at the theatre’, where you will have a chance afterwards to ask some of the writers, cast and director about the process of making theatre.

We launch, hot off the press, our new book, City without a head. You might have been lucky enough to pick up one of the original zines the publication grew from (the Encyclopaedia Citaecephale), but it’s grown up a lot since then. (8 October)

After the fantastic response to The Word Shed earlier in the year, we thought it was really important to have some participatory writing fun, so have come up with ‘Write around town’ an opportunity to write about the myth and reality of Rochester and also to invent some myths of your own. (10 October)

You can find out more about our events on the ME4 at RLF2013 page.

Or by going to the Rochester Literature Festival website, where you can find out about all of the events scheduled for the 10-day festival, including ME4 regular Roy Smith’s ‘The Skywatcher investigation’, an interactive story game.

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. http://poetrymon.wordpress.com/
  • 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 http://me4lettershome.wordpress.com
  • 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!

Poetry fun on National Poetry Day

poem 2 image
This poem was locked out of the Oast House!

For the second year running we played our game of Poetrymon across the 5 Medway towns.

In the day-long poetry treasure hunt, we hoofed it from Chatham to Rainham, Gillingham, then finally  Strood and Rochester.

In Poetrymon, ME4Writers make unique, one-off poem cards which are hidden about Medway to celebrate National Poetry Day.  Poems were written by Barry Fentiman, Sam Hall, Sarah Jenkin and Roy Smith. The hiders were Sam, Sarah and Barry.

This year the theme for NPD was ‘Stars’, so a good number of the poems responded to the theme. You can see more about Poetrymon on the website, we will also be adding some more pictures, poems and video to the site. The clues were also posted on Twitter and FaceBook. If you found a poem, we hope that it made your (National Poetry) day!!