Category Archives: collaborative project

Admiral’s Tea Party Workshops

I have been holding some community workshops for the Admiral’s Tea Party – to collect stories and feelings from local people about the Lower Lines, which will feed into the final piece. In the first workshop, we made poems using traditional Kentish words. Another workshop is still to be arranged – keep your eyes on the Wordsmithery and Paint the Town Facebook pages for info.

vulgar tongue


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A new site specific play: The Admiral’s Tea Party

The Admiral’s Tea Party is a new site specific performance which will take its inspiration from aspects of Chatham’s heritage, commissioned for the  Paint The Town Festival.

I have wanted to do some projects around the history of Medway for quite a long while, and hopefully this will be the first of a few things I’ve got planned.

The Admiral of the Fleet (head honcho of the British navy) used to have a residence in the Lower Lines Park in Gillingham, Kent. And apparently he used to organise fabulous tea parties on the lawn there! This is the inspiration for the project, which will be a collection of stories about the area. I want stories and writing from local people to be a part of the show, so I am leading some creative writing workshops to help create the final piece.


The first workshop will be held on Saturday 22nd April 2017 from 1- 3pm at Nucleus Arts Centre. Book here.

There is also a second workshop on Wednesday 26 April, 2-5pm at the Brook Theatre. Book here.


Join the Community Cast for this new outdoor theatre performance exploring the history of Gillingham’s Lower Lines Park. The site specific show will be performed on the afternoon of Saturday 24 June. If you are interested, please email Wordsmithery for further info.


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Margate is


Photo of the Wordsmithery team

Wordsmiths at work

Wordsmithery have been hosting pop-up writing retreats as part of this year’s Margate festival, in the shelter where TS Eliot wrote parts of The Waste Land.

Here is a collaborative poem written by Margate passers-by on 10 September. We will be back in the shelter this Saturday. (More info.)

Margate is…

Margate is…

A place. Homely.

Margate is…

My retirement,

Walking the dog

On a stretch of sand.

Margate is…

A wonderful place to live,

Modern then charming:

The derelict facade of Dreamland

And the Turner, like sliced off flats.

It’s sunny – I like the views

… But it smells funny.

Margate is…



On a sunny day, a place to swim;

On a windy day it’s like living on

the edge of hell.


Margate is…

Happiness, beautiful

A lovely coastline, lovely people

In Margate…

You’ve got to be careful

It’s stuck in the ‘60s… the ‘70s maybe

We’ve started the Christmas shopping.

The Turner’s like Minecraft

Or like sails.

It’s diverse,


full of historic cultural gems

My beloved Margate…

Light, space, sand, huge skies.

Horizons, possibilities.

Much maligned,

It’s really on the up.

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Wordsmithery project shortlisted in Kent Creative Awards

Cover of An assemblance of judicious heretics.

The book!

Wordsmithery was one of three Finalists in the Publishing category of the Kent Creative Awards 2016 for the book of last year’s lit art project – An Assemblance of Judicious Heretics.

This is the second year we have done this project, but the first that we published an anthology. The project works as follows: we anonymously give written texts to a range of artists and they will interpret the text in whatever medium they chose. 32 writers wrote texts and their words were interpreted by 35 artists. The writing and pictures was displayed in an exhibition. For 2015 the topic was inspired by ‘The Road not Taken’ by Robert Frost.

 The exhibition was shown at Rochester Library through September 2015, with a launch event, where the writing/art collaborations were revealed on Thursday 3 September 2015. We love arranging this sort of large scale literary collaboration, this year’s theme for the project is Shakespeare – watch this space for more info!

The book contains all the text and images in full colour.

A few copies are still available to buy from the Wordsmithery website.

Update: Congratulations to the Winner, WOW magazine.


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Shadow poem

Beasticide (with apologies to L Carroll)

‘Twas an icy earn and the skully cross

Did shriek and bixter cross the waves:

All frosty were the Rodericks

Along with the smiling Maves.


Hast thou seen the Rochester Beast, my friend!

Dripping jaws and horrible teeth, scranning oysters on the beach!

Beware the Rochester Beast, my friend

Lest you should come to a horrible end!


“My ducks!” Their keeper then exclaimed.

“Oh how it crunches, yums and scoffs,

The empty nest, downy remains.

Will no one slay this termonious monst?”


And, whiles he stood in watery eye,

The Rochester Beast, of whom they sang,

Came flupping right out of the sky,

And landed with a bang!


We sought the beast, we found it here,

We took our sticky-things in hand

Bashed it, crashed it, slopped it in the ear!

Joyelous singalogue filled the land.

“The monst is slain?” “Yes in its brain.”

“ Fan-hoorah, fan-hooray, tovarisch moy,

Ducks once more I will regain”

He chortled in his joy.


‘Twas an icy earn and the skully cross

Did shriek and bixter cross the waves:

All frosty were the Rodericks

Along with the smiling Maves.

The shadow puppets in the film

The shadow puppets in the film

A little bit of fun for a cold Thursday in April. See the video! Part of the Medway Meanderings  poetry-writing-walking project.

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Seeing what you say: words inspiring pictures


Glow (c) Naomi James, 2011

Glow (c) Naomi James, 2011


‘By shooting these set of black and white photos, I want to show our state of mind as a collective, living in the city of London.’ Naomi James, photography student, UEL

I responded to a call out on the ArtsJobs website for writers to send work to inspire photography students at the University of East London. I sent a selection of work from Barry and myself (mainly from the Encyclopaedia) and was delighted that one of Barry’s pieces – a prose poem called ‘Glow’ about how it never gets dark in cities, was selected.

We went to The Bethnal Green Working Men’s Club at the end of November to an event organised by the photography students and their tutors, to see the photos and read ‘Glow’. I documented the night in a short film. We were really impressed by the work on show.

Several students chose to interpret Barry’s text and I interviewed one of them, Naomi James, about her responses to the poem and how it inspired the pictures.

‘As people who live in one of the most lit cities in the world, (…) We are in a state of constant distraction. When do we ever get the chance to be in complete stillness whilst being in our ‘awake’ state in darkness? Are we afraid of the dark? Are we afraid of hearing our own voices without diversion?’ Naomi James

I have been thinking a lot about creative collaboration recently, so I think it’s great that the first year photography students at UEL are being encouraged to respond to, collaborate with and investigate other artforms from the very start of their course. It occurs to me, that so often once someone becomes a little successful in their artform that they seem to focus in tightly on that, becoming very protective of it, and lose interest in working with artists in other disciplines.

Working with artists in other fields has always been what excites me, to develop my own practice and to hopefully stimulate other’s thinking too.  Perhaps this is because my primary focus has been writing for the theatre, and I’ve been involved in a very hands-on way with producing my plays, so I have always been very aware of cross-disciplinary working. And always been willing to have a go at things I wouldn’t call myself an expert in, (including making props, hanging sets and giving notes!)

The brief for this project, part of the course was, ‘Seeing what you say’ and the photographers had to respond to pre-existing writing. A further, and more exciting, step would have been to create some new work together; a new mix of words and pictures, and perhaps there will be a possibility to do that in the future.

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i am small THE WORLD IS BIG

map picture

I attended a very stimulating workshop as part of accidental collective’s i am small THE WORLD IS BIG project on Saturday 16 April.

Each member of ME4 Writers, (a group I set up a few years ago when I moved to Kent,) cut up and reshaped the world according to something personal to them.

My map was a memory piece about all the places I’ve been on holiday.

ME4 Writers will be doing some writing inspired by the event, which will be available at the accidental collective open event on 28 May at Kent County Hall. Come along, re-make your own world and hear some of ME4 Writers’ writing too.

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