Category Archives: The City Project

See us in the city…

Photo of CWAH at Chatham Waterstones
At Chatham Waterstones

We are delighted to announce that you can now get City Without a Head in Chatham Waterstones. It’ll still cost you £12. You can also buy it online (plus postage) from www.wordsmithery.info. (Though maybe you might get a little extra surprise gift if you buy it online…)

You can also now follow our City Without a Head blog – where we will be posting extracts and images from cities we visit.

Or follow us on Twitter: @headlesscity

 

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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ME4Writers in local newspaper…

ME4 in local newspaper
ME4 in local newspaper

If you missed it – here’s a scan of the local newspaper – Medway Messenger I think – which featured an ME4 lineup as we did our Write Around Town writing tour as part of the Rochester LitFest! (They only managed to get one thing wrong as far as I can see… A badge for the first person to comment with what that mistake is!!)

City without a head

City without a head cover
In the city…

We are proud to have published and launched ME4Writers’ first collaborative full-length book City without a head, on 8 October 2013.

City without a head is a collection of the best writing from a long-running ME4Writers’ project, which you may remember – where we made 8 limited edition fanzines called ‘Encyclopaedia Citaecephale’ and distributed them around Medway and much further afield.

Well, nobody could pronounce that name, and we wanted to reflect that this was a new, bigger and better collection, written by a group of regular ME4 contributors, so we changed the name, commissioned some gorgeous artwork from Victoria Wainwright for the cover and 5 illustrations inside, and rewrote, added, deleted and edited what we’d had in the ‘zines.

The result is our attempt to define, confuse, capture, expound, tangle, twist, label, and generally riff on life in cities. Writers who feature are Barry Fentiman, Sam Hall, SM Jenkin, Anne-Marie Jordan, Sarah March, Tara Moyle and Roy Smith.

Entries range from story fragments, poems, faux-definitions, found writing to short stories. It is our unique sideways look at life in cities. we hope you enjoy it. We hope this will be the first book of many.

It can be purchased from www.wordsmithery.info for £12 + P+P.

“…this anthology is wonderfully enthralling and the passion that oozes from each page is unquestionable…” **** Femalearts.com (Full review.)

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!