#RLF2016: Written Worlds, Inspiring Places

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For some strange reason 5 years ago, I decided to start a literature festival. Possibly I had too much time on my hands (I didn’t) possibly I just felt we were lacking a festival in Medway dedicated to writing, and somebody had to do it. I must’ve been mad, and I’m also stubborn, so here we are: the fourth Rochester Literature Festival 2016 kicks off this weekend.

Amidst the usual creative writing workshops, Cafe Crawl and author talks this year, the RLF has a wonderful day of craft activities planned for all ages.

The Turtle Moves, inspired by Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series, sees a Juvenile Crafters’ Guild appear, as if by magic, in Rochester’s Community Hub, where you can design your own Luggage or bring to life a Golem, among other activities. Out and about in the high street you’ll bump into numerous characters – and even see a re-enactment of the Battle of Koom Valley! And shhhhh – it’s rumoured that the Librarian will be appearing in L-Space (Baggins!)

RLF Patron Lisa Cutts is appearing at Strood Library on Oct 4, alongside fellow crime author Simon Booker, while author of The Outlaw Chronicles, Angus Donald, is at Rochester Library on Oct 6. There is also a Local Author Day at Rochester Library between 10am-2pm on Oct 1.

The popular Cafe Crawl takes place on Sunday, Oct 2 and features the Canterbury Yarners, Fiona Sinclair, Nancy Charley, Johanna Coulson and Maggie Butt alternating at Bruno’s Bakes, The Quills and Cafe @172 between 12-3pm.

The festival opens with three creative writing workshops on Saturday, Oct 1: An Introduction to Screenwriting, A Guide to Self Publishing, and Building Your Make Believe World. It ends with a Writers’ Retreat on Sunday, Oct 9.

All the events apart from the workshops are free, and more detail and tickets for the workshops can be booked here.

If you pop down, be sure to say ‘hi’ 🙂

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Seasonally adjusted for app use

I’ve missed the last few Seasonally Effecteds, so I thought I’d mosey on up  this month and catch up with all the lovely people who frequent Dot Cafe (last Wednesday in the month, varies occasionally, check before leaving), as well as try my hand with the Splice app again.

Another excellent mix of folks took to the mic; here’s a video snapshot:

The reason for laughter at the end? Roy was too quick for me and we did a little stop-start dance before we got the final take!

In order of appearance: Tendayi Sutherland; Thomas Kelly; Toby Marsh; Sam Rapp; Gavin Alexander; Nigel Adams; Lionesse X; Mike Orvis; Razz Saunders; Rachel Lowrie.

Visit www.seasonallyeffected.wordpress.com – email Roy if you want a slot at the next one.

Game of Thrones readers feeling a tad smug

Because we know what’s coming. And it ain’t just Winter.

Having voraciously read my way through the five books – and then started on the books about the books – over the past few months, I accept that I’ll probably be buying the DVD box set before the last two books are actually published. (I haven’t succumbed to the Sky monster).

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Rochester LitFest: Six Ways to Wellbeing Swale

An innovative new collaboration between Ideas Test, Swale CVS and ourselves is set to help teenagers in Swale boost their wellbeing.

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Ideas Test and Swale CVS will be offering an exciting programme of free taster sessions and workshops through autumn as part of Kent County Council’s Six Ways to Wellbeing campaign. The events will explore how getting involved with something creative can improve health and wellbeing. If you’re a young person (age 13-19 or 25 SEN) this is your chance to have fun with poetry and spoken word, both writing and performing.

We’re delighted that the brilliant and exuberant Dan Simpson will be with us to run poetry and spoken word sessions, which will culminate in a short performance at a finale of the whole project. He’ll be kicking off the entire Ideas Test Six Ways project by crowdsourcing a poem from 10am on Monday morning, finishing on Friday 24th October. The finished result will be recorded for broadcast at the finale event. Read more about the poem here or join in on Twitter with #wellbeingpoem

The first of the LitFest hosted sessions is Capturing Stories – a digital storytelling workshop by Jaye to make the most of smart phones or tablets when attending events. Covering the basics of Twitter, Vine, Audio Boom and Storify, this session will help the participants capture and document their activities across all the different sessions they take part in, aiding them in their quest to obtain a Bronze Arts Award by having an easily accessible digital archive. Blogging will also be covered. (This and ‘Captured Stories’ are also available for those not doing an Arts Award or taking part in other sessions).

The workshop dates are as follows:

Saturday 25/10 12 – 4pm Capturing Stories. Pulse Cafe, Sittingbourne
Tuesday 4/11 6.30pm – 9pm Poetry/Spoken Word. Sheerness County Youth Centre
Thursday 13/11 6pm – 8.30pm Poetry/Spoken Word. New House Sports and Youth Centre, Sittingbourne
Saturday 15/11 11am – 3pm Poetry/Spoken Word. Sheerness County Youth Centre
Monday 17/11 5pm – 7.30pm Poetry/Spoken Word West Faversham Community Centre (disability group/all welcome)
Saturday 29/11 11am – 4pm Poetry/Spoken Word. Phoenix House, Sittingbourne (open workshop and final rehearsal)
Saturday 6/12 6pm – 8pm Finale Performance Avenue Theatre, Sittingbourne
Saturday 13/12 12noon – 2pm Captured Stories. Pulse Café, Sittingbourne
The finale performance will include activity from the other partners in the project overall. See the Ideas Test website for more information.

The ‘Captured Stories’ session on 13/12 will bring together and share all the media surrounding the project.

All sessions are completely free to attend and you can book on line here or by calling 07713 865955. Cassy will be delighted to send you all the information you need to know. Please note that photography and other media will be shared on line and in promotional material.

The Six Ways to Wellbeing are all about doing more of the things you enjoy, with research showing that this can help improve your moods, strengthen your relationships and even add seven years to your life! It can be something as small as having a dance around, meeting a new person or learning a new skill.

The Six Ways are:

Connect – with family, friends, colleagues, neighbours
Be active – walk, run, garden, dance
Take notice – be curious, reflect on experiences
Keep learning – try something new
Give – doing something for others
Grow your world – planet care for its sustainability
You can find ourselves, Ideas Test, Swale CVS and Six Ways to Wellbeing on Twitter @RochLitFest @IdeasTest @SwaleCVS and @liveitwelluk, all of whom will be tweeting about the project under #sixwaystowellbeing. Six Ways to Wellbeing is also on Facebook, please search for ‘liveitwellkent’.

Find out more about the Six Ways to Wellbeing at http://www.sixwaystowellbeing.org.uk.

This programme of arts events is being funded jointly by Kent County Council, Artswork and The Royal Opera House Bridge.

Rochester Literature Festival 2014: Mad, Bad & Dangerous to Know

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We’re delighted to be opening this year with an hilarious and heart-warming one woman show with actress Sunny Ormonde – the outrageous Lilian Bellamy from BBC Radio 4’s The Archers, the world’s longest running soap.

Over the course of the next ten days, we’ll be joined by as-seen-on-tv-off-his-trolley comic genius Phil Kay, master of freeform performance and storytelling, and notorious Australian, Trenton Oldfield – who served six months at her Majesty’s Pleasure for disrupting the 2012 Boat Race in a protest against elitism.

We will be hosting two wonderful authors who’ll fascinate you with insights and anecdotes from their latest books: Angela Buckley introduces us to The Real Sherlock Holmes – Detective Jerome Caminada, whose methodologies mimicked Conan Doyle’s genius, and Debz Hobbs-Wyatt, who will discuss the impact of reality on fiction. While No One Was Watching is set against the backdrop of the Kennedy assassination and the abduction of a young girl from the grassy knoll on that fateful day.

Sadly, we have to announce the postponement of one of our family events,Assassin, due to technical issues. Featuring the fantastic Joe Craig reading extracts from his Jimmy Coates series – part boy, part weapon, totally deadly – and music from Jacob Bride, Graham Sykes and Jamie Godfrey, this will hopefully take place early in the new year. However, we do still have the awesome Keeper of the Realms author, Marcus Alexander, who is Charlie’s Keeper, who will entertain and inspire you with his delightfully wicked fantasy adventure series – get your read on! Waterstones in Chatham have kindly agreed to sell books in the venue on the day, if you need to complete your collection.

Our interactive story game this year is Murder in the Crypt, in which you’ll be invited to solve mysteries and puzzles with Miss Marple, Sherlock Holmes and Auguste Dupin. In addition, we’re holding a Cafe Crawl, where you can sample poetry and storytelling, while Bookmark’d is a chance to buy books, swap books or just listen to books, read aloud by their authors.

Our Night at the Theatre will this year be held in conjunction with Chatham Grammar School for Boys and be presented by award winning 17% playwrights,Sam Fentiman-Hall, Sarah Hehir and Maggie Drury. The Spirit of My Dream is inspired by Byron’s poem The Dream and features new plays with a fantastical theme.

An exhibition curated by ME4Writers especially for the festival, An Assemblance of Judicious Heretics, has channelled Byron to produce work inspiring madness, badness and dangerousness in the hearts of artists. A live reading will bring the visual carnage to life!

Byron’s Teapot will be our finale – a mad mix of unusual and quirky music, poetry and theatre, featuring The James Worse Public Address Method, JP Lovecraft,Dylan Oscar Rowe and Brides of Rain.

We look forward to welcoming you to our exciting – and only slightly scary – second full length festival!

To read full details, download a copy the 2014 programme and buy tickets, please visit rochesterlitfest.com.

If you have any enquiries regarding any of the events or festival in general, please email rochesterlitfest@gmail.com or telephone 07904 643770.

We look forward to seeing you 🙂

Triffidus Corpus

The day outside was sounding wrong. Feeling wrong. Even for a Sunday, the silence was disturbingly, mysteriously different. No rumbling wheels, no roaring buses, no tramping feet. Shuffling, hesitant feet, yes. But none with purpose. No birdsong, just unintelligible wailing and sobbing close by.

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He wasn’t able to see the light show played out in the skies last night. Bright green flashes; shooting stars; showering comets. A magnificent spectacle, they said. A unique phenomenon, they said. You should have seen it, they said. Rather insensitively.

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The feeling of the bogey man under the bed began to creep upon him. A lifetime of being deprived of his eyes did nothing to alleviate this. Was it that famed sixth sense, becoming more heightened?

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Was it his imagination? That fluttery feeling in his stomach, a prelude to something he dreaded. But what? Reaching out to touch … what? There was nothing there, nothing to feel and yet… still that persistent nagging.

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What was that? A waft of air passed by his face, light as a feather. He was reminded of a fly, caught in a spider’s web. Trapped by uncertainty; perplexed by inactivity. Stilled by fear. He became aware that something was waiting …

Lurching towards him, leathery leaves rustling.

A stem whipped back and forth.

A swish and a slap.

The sting whistle slashed.

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“A Triffid is in a damn sight better position to survive than a blind man. Take away our sight and our superiority to them is gone.” – John Wyndham, The Day of the Triffids

I wrote this piece for The Skywatcher Investigation, our interactive alien game during the Rochester LitFest 2013 Other Worlds, Other Voices Festival. Using Wyndham’s descriptive language to capture the feel but creating a character of my own, it was performed by the multi talented Lance Philips of Physical Folk, playing a blind gardener, who succumbs to attack by a Triffid, played by the wonderful Sophie Williams. I read the piece aloud to the sound of Mozart’s requiem, Ave Verum Corpus, adjusting the text to fit the rhythm of the music.

It was a new experience for me but one I thoroughly enjoyed working on, and hope to do similar again in future.

Photo credit: Nikki Price Photography

Seasonally Effected Cultural Open Mic

The next Seasonally Effected session is at Cafe 172 (formerly Dot Cafe) on Wednesday, April 30th from 7pm.

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Expect an eclectic mix of poetry, song, storytelling and more – and get there early to bag a seat, because there was barely standing room available last month.

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Photo: Nikki Price

A rapper and beat boxer over from Sheppey joined in what was considered the Best SE Ever, particularly with the impromptu group chorus of Hallelujah (Jeff Buckley’s, not Handel’s). And a new genre was born, with Thomas and Umpdeep now much in demand for their combination of spoken word and drum beats.

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Slots are fully booked for this month but if you’d like to take part next time, contact Roy Smith via email seasonallyeffected@gmail.com. Podcasts of previous sessions can be found here: http://seasonallyeffected.wordpress.com/

Roy is running a free workshop on Thursday evening, May 1st (7pm, coFWD) for any artists, writers or creatives interested in working on his augmented reality game ‘ The Real Medway & Swale’  – contact him at realmedwayandswale@gmail.com.

Photo: Nikki Price

Photo: Nikki Price