In the past few years, Wordsmithery has published a range of anthologies, plays and pamphlets. They are all available on our website, or by emailing us for more information on bulk and non-UK based orders.
Anthologies: City without a head: our 4-star anthology offering an alternative take on life in cities. An assemblance of judicious heretics: our gorgeous full colour anthology of art, poems and stories inspired by ‘The Road Not Taken’.
Pamphlets: The Unbearable Sheerness of Being: Barry Fentiman Hall’s personal Odyssey around the Isle of Sheppey. Beautiful Monsters: Sam Hall’s collection of 6 short modern day fairytales.
Plays: Zero Down: Sarah Hehir’s powerful story about staff on a zero hours contract. Child Z: Sarah Hehir’s 5-star play about a girl caught up in a child sex exploitation ring. My Mind is Free: Sam Hall’s play about 4 victims of human trafficking.
To purchase any of these books please head on over to Wordsmithery.
Some photos from Tales from the dark room at Pop Gallery on 2 March 2015.
Performances from Barry and Sam Fentiman-Hall, Neil R Wood, Razz Saunders, Philip Kane, Chris Van Beck, Luka Lukasik, and Dylan Oscar Rowe.
Photos from Man in the Attic photography, Marilyn Simpson and Chris Tong. Thanks to the Pop Gallery and Recreate for use of the space. The Pop Gallery LabRat Conspiracy is on til 7 March – if you want to see the photos in the background!
Here is a review of City without a head, ME4Writers’ little yellow book, by Crab Man / Phil Smith, (Mythogeography) :
“One way to map a city is in a sprawling novel of characters. Another is to weave writerly trajectories of obsessive detail. But ‘City Without A Head’ has no narrative, design nor geography that is grand. It is a thing of uneven miniatures, its scale shifts uneasily around small. It seeks the molecular level, the chipped letters in the urban alphabet, each entry struggling towards some noun, occasionally getting up towards a phrase, but there are no sentences with verbs here. This is a city that does not do, or suffer, or change; instead, its parts fall into place like small dead meat on an ocean floor. This is starting again, not from scratch, not from the screen wiped clean, but from wet dust.
There are fragments of a dystopian future that is almost always here; of paté that tastes of Willesden, “incest weeklies”, services run by “Norman Bates with a budget”, “ominous cellos of austerity”. In the new estate the pavement ends twenty feet either side of the bus stop; where “the impossibility of walking become complete” the only thing to hang onto is each other and yet under conditions of psychic tectonic shifts atrophying “islands of humanity” are pushed ever further apart. ‘City Without A Head’ is, in grit, what Debord theorised as the pervasive “separateness” in a spectacle.
There is, however, a kind of hybrid landscape here, which in its multiplicity suggests a salvation through juxtapositions of errors and accidental collisions: the statues mistaken for potential suicides, a “Thing” to come face to face with, the bags fluttering in branches.
One of the writers here describes themselves as a mythogeographer and in the whirl of disconnections there is an alternative and unsentimental rhythm of despairing of despair, of memory so lonely it demands to be re-visited, of a shadow city unglued, a city that no longer needs heads, a civil body without the organisations of the organic, a bypass that requires a bypass. Hints there are here of an emerging ambulatory accelerationism.
For all its granular qualities, like a non-specific disease, this book is not particular about place. There is no escape; you may get on the night bus, but that does not mean it will take you anywhere: “Smoke rises from the floor, they clap and sing. We arrive in Tangier, but I swear we never left our seats.” Space, headless and unglued, is the place. ”
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.
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
A couple of weeks ago we guested on Fizzer’s Radio Show. You can listen to it here. Where we are reading lots of bits from the book, and hearing some great music.
(A lovely photo below from the Fizzer Show guys!)
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!!)
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.
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 beco-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!
from the people formerly known as ME4Writers. Head over to www.wordsmithery.info for the most up-to-date stuff!