Last night we held the first of our ME4-rum open forum/workshops as part of Roundabout Nights. The idea is you can come along, bring your work in progress, read it and get comments on it. It’s an opportunity to chew the fat with other writers, over a beer, or a cup of tea and biscuits. Non-writers are very welcome to come along and join in the discussions, and listen to previews of work.
The next ME4-rum is on 8 September. Next week (18 August) we are hosting a Spoken Word night with a lineup to be announced.
There will be no Roundabout Night on 25 August, due to the Bank Holiday. But we will return on 1 September, as scheduled, with She Writes.
Sam and Baz were part of The Kent Cultural Baton’s FUSE festival One Day Works on 6 June. We spent the whole day in the historic Dockyard writing poems inspired by the history since the Dockyard closed in 1984.
We have each made a poem and here are a couple of extracts showing our different approaches.
It was a nice experience to be in the baton and concentrate a whole day to writing, aided by the Dockyard’s atmosphere of memories and place.
The aim was to write a 30-verse poem charting the past 30 years, including Medway, world and personal events. We both took different approaches, and ended up writing two poems that are still growing and await a bit of cogitation and editing:
400 years more or less
Summoned by the tide
Summoned by bells
Summoned by sirens
The swarm had come
Knowing their role
Caulkers, carpenters and cranemen
Tied to their aprons always
At their work, at their play
Delta 3.0 redux
I sleep unawares,
Innocent chrysalis, for
Whom does that bell toll?
The Baton will be out and about during Fuse – you can find more information here.
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
We are delighted to say we will be taking over the shed in the garden of the Good Intent, as a temporary squatted home for the Word Shed during the afternoon of the Rochester Literature Festival Summer Garden Party!
Come along and sit in our lean-to between 12noon and 4pm on Sunday 14th July 2013, at the Good Intent Pub in John Street, Rochester, where you can do some writing themed around summer. The party will feature a delightful cultural mix of performances, open mic, storytelling and a special edition of Seasonally Effected.
There might even be an opportunity for you to sit on Charlie’s Chair and get inspired by a local literary ghost!
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.
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.
It’s only two weeks to the Word Shed at Fuse Festival, and furious typing up of contributions has been happening all this week. Here is a sneaky peak at the cover design for ‘The Seed Collection’ – a collection of writing seeded at the WordShops.
This collection will feature a selection of writing from attendees at our creative writing workshops and will be given away free from the Word Shed, during the festival.
Most of the other contributions (less the ones we couldn’t read, best handwriting please!) – including those from the last workshop, and visitors to the shed, will be added to a chunky, comprehensive PDF for download from the Word Shed site, and we will read pieces from both these publications on the final day of Fuse.
We have been holding some fun creative writing workshops around Medway in libraries. Last weekend we went to Walderslade Village, where we did a variety of writing exercises. The aim of the workshops is to make a collaborative publication which we will launch at the Fuse Festival in our Word Shed (possibly the world’s smallest writing retreat!) Next weekend we are taking a break as it’s the Dickens Festival, but we are back with out last ‘WordShop’ on 8 June at Chatham Library from 1.30-3.30pm. Please book with the library on 01634 337799. Find out more about the Word Shed project.
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.
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!
Wishes hanging from a tree – a project with schoolchildren in Essex
The ‘Meander-glyph’ – totem of Barry’s walk of the Medway
Writing workshop for Medway Archives, July 2012
Short Encounters sci-fi podcasts and show at the Dot Cafe
Sarah, Barry and Sam at the Culture and Design Awards, Medway Messenger 14 December 2012
One of the the photos of home by Nikki Price in our Letters Home exhibition
Poetic Vintage – our clothing and poetry stall at RochLitFest’s Garden Party by Nikki Price
Poetrymon 2 for National Poetry Day, September 2012
The next writing retreat is on 14 August at coFWD from 10am-4pm. See below for info on how to book your place.
There are three more dates for Rochester Writing Retreats, organised by Roy, on 9 September, 14 October and 18 November from 10-4pm at coFWD at 161 Rochester High Street. These events will be running on a ‘magic hat’ basis, meaning that you pay what you think the day was worth when you leave.
There will be space for up to 20 people to work on anything they wish, be it poems, short stories, a novel, article, essay or any other project. The venue will supply desks and power supplies, there is also free wifi internet if needed. You just need to bring a laptop or pen and paper if you prefer.
Please note that some of the spaces are less accessible than others, if you require a space on the ground floor, please let us know in advance and we will reserve you a space.
Tea and coffee is available on an honesty basis from the kitchen and there are plenty of places to get lunch nearby.