Sunday, 1 September 2019

Dickens and his bedfellows - Medway 2020

So June 2020 is the big one for Dickens in Medway. It will be the 150th anniversary of the death of campaigner and writer Charles Dickens. Doubtless there will be many celebrations to mark the life and work of an internationally recognised author, one who spent some of his most formative years in the Medway area. Medway has provided inspiration for some of his most famous works, and I look forward to celebrating his work and legacy next year along with everyone else.

Image by Andrys Stienstra from Pixabay 
Dickens is an important part of a long-standing culture of art and literature in Medway, and some of his bedfellows also have important anniversaries in 2020. These include the

  • 400th anniversary of the birth of Will Adams the Navigator and pioneer 
  • 150th anniversary of the death of Chatham-born Chartist William Cuffay   
  • 60th anniversary of the death of painter and official war artist Evelyn Dunbar. Evelyn was educated in Rochester and painted some scenes of Rochester from Strood 
  • 220th anniversary of the death of Thomas Fletcher Waghorn. Postal Pioneer (a man of letters, no less) who shortened the mail route between England and India, though this is disputed by some. Expect to see some more art depicting his statue in Chatham crowned with a traffic cone or 3
  • 340th anniversary of the death of controversial poet and courtier John Wilmot. The 2nd Earl of Rochester served during the Anglo-Dutch wars.
  • 240th anniversary of the first arrest of poet and engraver William Blake (1757–1827) and of Thomas Stothard in September 1780. The Blake Society re-enacted this on the Medway in 2007.

It's the 430th anniversary of the publication of the first three books of The Faerie Queene by Edmund Spenser. Spenser worked for a short time as secretary to the bishop of Rochester. Frequently regarded as one of the greatest English epic poems, book 4 includes the marriage of the river Medway to the river Thames.

Other people of note in Medway

  • Louis Brennan (28 January 1852 - 17 January 1932.) Genius inventor from County Mayo in Ireland, he developed a steerable torpedo and developed the weapon in Medway. He was superintendent of the government factory at Gillingham. He also invented many other things.
  • Chatham-born Richard Dadd – gifted painter who was born in Chatham high Street (1 August 1817 and died in Broadmoor hospital 8 January 1886)
  • Strood-born Anne Pratt. (5 December 1806 - 27 July 1893) Anne lived in Chatham, was educated in Eastgate house Rochester before travelling. When she returned to Medway she got married in Luton. She was tremendously successful and influential in her day.

  • If you'd like to read more about the artists of Medway, I recommend you get hold of a copy of From Chaucer to Childish: A Chronological Survey of Writers and Artists in the Medway Towns by Michael O'Connor . It's a cracking read, with enugh detail to keep your interest without outstaying it. Michael published with the Delta press back in 2011, so it's due an update...

    Is there anyone else with a Medway connection that you'd like to celebrate next year?

    Monday, 7 January 2019

    Thomas Fletcher Waghorn

    On the anniversary of his death, to celebrate the memory of Chatham born adventurer Thomas Fletcher Waghorn, 3 Confluence poets walked from his grave in Snodland to his statue in Chatham. Details of where to find his grave are on the find a grave website.

    Snodland historical society have some information about him here. He embodied the unconquerable spirit of Kent and we salute him.

    Thursday, 29 November 2018

    Fire in the Head launched in a Roundabout Way

    photo of poets after their performance at the launch of fire in the head
    Performers at Fire in the Head Launch.
    Photo by Sam Fentiman-Hall 

    It was a dark and dreary winters night...

    I'll start that again. It was standing room only at the Poco Cantina at my book launch last night.

    Thank you to everyone who participated by reading, listening or by joining in on our #Invicted poem.

    Copies of Fire in the Head are available from me at a gig or from the Wordsmithery website.

    Friday, 9 November 2018

    Fire in the Head - debut collection launch

    fire in the head book launch 28 november

    Yes, it's finally here. My Debut collection “Fire In The Head” will be launched at Poco Loco, Chatham on the 28th of November at 7:00pm. I wanted to draw attention to the many different stories of Medway, including the time that William Blake was arrested here.

    The launch is being held on the anniversary of Blake’s birth. The book remembers the stories, people and myths of Medway that often get overlooked. Medway is a place that has many stories and many people passing through, it is a place of transition and transformation. I include myths woven into the fabric of the place.

    To find out more about the event visit the Facebook event page

    Reviews of Fire in the head:

    “You can taste the tang of the Medway in these sharp, observant poems, where myth and history gang-up on the present to tell new tales. A fine line-up from poet, SM Jenkin, to waken the sleepers and inspire fresh dreams.”

    Caitlín Matthews (author of Diary of a Soul Doctor and King Arthur’s Raid.)

    “In this collection, Chatham based poet SM Jenkin, interweaves myths of seal wives and Medway mermaids, with her own stories and experiences. She questions what it means, if anything, to be ‘adjusted’ in the world and contrasts her philosophies with rich imagery, exploring the ferocity of nature and her thirst for its wild freedom.”

    Isabelle Kenyon (Fly on the Wall Poetry Press)

    Wednesday, 10 October 2018

    Raw Red peaches - instapoem

    Late night fridge poem by S M Jenkin

    one thousand red peaches
    rain raw honey blood seas
    as rose mist sprays
    over my diamond tongue

    Tuesday, 18 September 2018

    #Invicted on tour - Once Upon a Mic

    The #Invicted collective of Poets from Medway are back on tour

    Catch us at Once Upon a Mic, a lively mix of poetry, music and comedy.
    Upstairs at the Castle, Whitechapel, last Friday of the month.
    £4 online, £5 on the door (CASH ONLY)
    Be sure to arrive by 7.30 to guarantee a seat!

    We will be performing on Friday, 28 September
    The hosts will be the soulful Math Jones & the irrepressible Jah-Mir Early

    Once Upon a Mic
    Tickets from Eventbrite

    Sunday, 1 July 2018

    Big Trouble at Little Roc - Open Mic

    A terrific evening of spoken word awaits you at the Little Roc cafe in Rochester. Come and join us, be swept away by the scorching words burned out by the fire in our heads

    Saturday, 2 June 2018

    #cpcfire Camden Chocolate poetry club

    Billing at the Camden chocolate poetry club, May 2018
    The noisiest and liveliest spoken word event I've been to so far in London, the Chocolate Poetry club spoken word night in Camden is also one of the most inviting. I'd recommend a visit. It's regular open mic is held at the Camden Eye pub but they also host spoken word gigs at festivals out and about in the UK.

    Details here:

    Friday, 12 January 2018

    punch drunk dreams

    punch drunk dreams : SM Jenkin
    punch drunk dreams

    those languid peach dreams
    recall light in petals
    his honey drunk friends
    sing deliriously
    but never
    could she have

    Fridge poem by SM Jenkin

    Wednesday, 1 November 2017

    Words of the month: Skull, Ghost, Twitch

    The Veil Blinks by SM Jenkin

    Photo:Pixabay (creative commons)
    The veil blinks,
    is noticed to twitch, 
    once, from the other side
    as children dance from
    door to door,
    cheap plastic caressing
    their faces; 
    skulls, green drowned
    faces melting into innocent
    necks. Tonight, it’s 
    dad’s turn
    and he is glad there have been
    no sexy vampires, yet.
    It was their game, 

    And he watches from the gate,
    as some other man’s child wobbles 
    past in a dirty white duvet,
    scissored holes for eyes.
    And he chances a brief look
    at his watch, feeling the 
    hour hand spinning 
    like a helicopter,
    lifting his hand.
    Until the veil twitches
    shut again, for another year.
    And he didn’t think of her

    Inspired by Lisa Vigor’s Inspirational words of the month, Oct 2017  #Ghost #Twitch #Skull as posted by Lisa on youtube here

    Tuesday, 13 June 2017

    The Admiral's Tea Party

    One thing that seems to slip many peoples minds is that the majority of Chatham dockyard is based in neighboring Gillingham (New Brompton).

    From the beginnings of old Gillingham as a fishing village, there has been a strong naval tradition in the area. You can imagine there is a lot of naval history that is unknown about the area, or not widely known. One of the most surprising things that I have found out is that the Admiral of the whole British fleet held "fabulous" tea parties on the lawn of his residence on the lower lines park. (I'm still quite surprised that he lived in Gillingham).

    Admiral's tea party

    To celebrate and illuminate this history, Sam of Wordsmithery fame is helping local people create a show commissioned as part of the Paint The Town Festival to be performed at the Lower Lines Park in Gillingham on Saturday, 8 July.

    A day-long workshop is planned at the Brook Theatre on Saturday, 24 June for people who would like to take part. To book or for further info contact

    See this article about the Great Lines Admiral's Gardens by the Kent Gardens Trust