Category Archives: Teaching

Monday Nights at The Roundabout Room, Upstairs at The Alex

We are working with The Alexandra pub in Chatham to create a weekly Monday night of literary activities. These will include plays, poetry, workshops and drop-in writing sessions. The night will very much be a work in development; a chance for people to experiment and show off their potential.

The first night will be on 28 July, 7-10pm, with Roundabout Sushi, a preview of the type of things we will be doing.

Come along, see some highlights of the type of stuff we will be showing, and share your ideas.

We would like you to get involved. Come along, listen, give feedback, try out your work, perform. Writers, actors, directors – if you would like to be involved, we would love to hear from you!

The Alexandra Hotel, 43 Railway St, Chatham, Kent ME4 6RJ
Find us on Facebook: Roundabout Nights!

28 July: Roundabout Sushi – a taster of all the events we will be doing.

4 August: She Writes – script in hand reading of plays by women.

11 August: MEforum – bring your work in progress, your favourite book, and talk about them. If you have a writing problem, maybe we can help!

18 August: Spoken word

25 August: Guest programmer slot – tbc

1 September: She Writes

WordShed Lite visits Gravesend

Photo of the Word Potting ShedAs part of the wonderful Footfall Project from the Gravesend Arts Consortium, we are running creative writing workshops – a version of the WordShed lite.

The first workshop was held on 19 April and the next one is on 10 May.

“My daughter and I just took part in the workshop “The Word Shed” and really enjoyed it. I have to admit I don’t consider myself great at writing, but I enjoyed the different styles we tried, from Haiku, to a creative monologue. My daughter is only 9 but she really enjoyed it too and came away wanting to do more. Thanks for letting us be a part of it.”

Here’s a collective poem we wrote inspired by the phrase ‘Heart of Darkness’:

Heart of Darkness
The Heart of Darkness, a book about time…
When love was shaken to the core and the beating stopped
Silence fell, all breathing was heard
In the church, nobody said a word,
But then organ blasted out and shook the walls
Tumble, rumble, the foundations fall.

A bit like ‘poetry consequences’, each writer only sees the one line immediately before the line they write, so sometimes the poem goes in unexpected directions. Sometimes though, they work!

The next free workshop is being held in Gravesend market, in the Footfall project space, from 1.30-3.30pm on 10 May.

Writing workshops at Footfall project in Gravesend

Gravesend market door pictureSam is happy to be involved with an exciting arts project in Gravesend, where she will be hosting two free writing workshops as part of the Footfall project.

Footfall is a project organised by Wendy Cottam, of Gravesend Arts Consortium.

The project brings together artists from Gravesend and beyond, to make work publicly in spaces in Gravesend’s market. There will also be a series of workshops and exhibitions, to be held every Saturday from March 22 to May 31 in Gravesend Borough Market, off the High Street.

Sam will be hosting a version of the WordShed in the market on 19 April and 10 May (tbc), from 1.30pm-3.30pm, where attendees can expect to do a range of fun writing exercises, inspired by their Gravesend location.

Find out more about the Footfall project on Facebook.


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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ME4Writers awarded FUSE Festival Spark Commission

The Word ShedWe are very happy to announce that ME4Writers’ project ‘The Word Shed’ has received a Spark Commission from the Fuse Festival.

We will be creating ‘The Wordshed’ – a cosy and intimate base for creative thought. Guided by visitors to the Festival, we will develop and launch a new collection of poetry and stories for (and about) Fuse Festival, festivals in general and Medway. Visitors who wish to take part will be invited to create their own piece of writing to add to the collection. On Day 3 of the Festival there will be the opportunity to hear readings from the finished publication and collect a free copy of the new publication.

We will also be running some writing workshops in the run-up to the Festival – look out for posters in your local library and you will be able to book direct with them.

  • Saturday 11 May: Rochester Library: 1.30-3.30pm
  • Saturday 18 May: Strood Library: 10.30-12.30pm
  • Saturday 25 May: Walderslade Village Library: 10.30-12.30pm
  • Saturday 8 June: Chatham Library: 1.30-3.30pm

Says Festival General Manager Dawn Archer, who has been developing the Festival’s work with the local Medway community: “Fuse is all about local people and artists and celebrating Medway’s identity. It’s important to us to be involving local performers in a Festival which is now considered to be one of the most exciting outdoor arts events in the country. And the bonus is that the commissions not only allow our local artists to be part of Fuse, but also to develop new ways of working. All 3 commissions will create something very exciting, tailor-made for Fuse, and will spark imaginations throughout the Festival.”

You can find out more about the project:
By following: @WordShed on Twitter
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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!

The Wishing Tree in Essex

The Wishing Tree is a project inspired by Yoko Ono’s Wish Trees.

photo of the wish tree
Wishes hanging from a tree

In March of this year Sam worked with a class of 7-10 year olds at a school in Essex, to create a magical project that the whole school could take part in. Along with a collaborator whose job is as a scene painter in the theatre, and the class of 30 children, Sam created a treasure hunt of 4 zones, which the whole school took part in during 2 hours in the afternoon.

There was a fun activity in each of the zones, devised and created by the children (with a little help!) Activities involved were riddle solving, dressing in disguises, and tasting food from around the world. When the children had followed the clues in the treasure hunt and taken part in all the activities, they were rewarded with a wishing card, where the finale of the treasure hunt was to visit the Wishing Tree, (a decorated tree in the school grounds,) and tie a wish to the tree.

The objectives of the overall treasure hunt activities were: to reinforce creative thinking; to introduce creative career pathways; and, the school needed to have aspects of the national curriculum covered in the project. (This was achieved for several topics; Design and technology,  Geograph, PE:,  Literacy, and, PSHE!)

wish cards

Short stories inspired by the archives

Workshop posterBarry and Sam led a creative writing workshop at the Medway Archives and Local Studies Centre on 11 July.

The idea of the workshop was to find out how to use the Archives’ amazing collection of local information as a basis or inspiration for a short story.

There is a bit of a misconception that nothing of interest ever happens around here – but a surprising amount of stuff has happened once you start digging! All of which could provide inspiration for a story with a local bent…

For your delight (and possible short story writing inspiration) here are some facts, local myths and legends re-discovered yesterday. Did you know that…

Noted 19th century artist and patricide Richard Dadd was born in Brompton and murdered his father near Cobham, before calmly walking back to The Crown in Rochester and washing his hands, before fleeing for France!

Local shopkeeper and fire warden ‘Robbo’ Robinson kicked incendiary bombs off the top of Gillingham gasworks in WW2, and without him most of Gillingham would not be here. He was awarded a George Medal for this.

In 1661, Transylvanian prince Cossuma Albertus was buried at Rochester Cathedral. According to Samuel Pepys in his diary Cossuma was murdered by his own coachman near Gad’s Hill. Rumours still persist that the unlucky prince was a vampire!

On D-Day in 1944, an American bomber crashed on Corporation Road in Gillingham after a mid-air collision.

And then there’s the legend of the Medway Bogman… Neck broken, lolling backwards, hunting dogs straining at the leash from either arm, hangman tattoo on his shoulder, haunting the streets of Medway in the dead of night. This mysterious legend, myth or outright lie, (from Medway Towns, Ottaker’s Local History Series, 2001) tells the story of a mysterious Neolithic zombie who may or may not have been involved in a child’s murder in the 1930s, and may or may not have escaped from Eastgate House during the war, never to be seen again since the 1950s when an exorcism was carried out at Upchurch.

Witchcraft, wife-selling, ‘beastly intoxication’, a ventriloquist in court, and a female bargeman are all other local factual stories that could inspire your own fictional stories!