Saturday, 19 September 2020

#WFest Q&A with SM Jenkin

 As part of the all day #Wfest, I participated in a Q&A session, talking with Sam Fentiman-Hall about my work and what inspires it. Here is the text, in full:

SM Jenkin is a regular performer on the UK live lit scene, has performed internationally, and has been published in numerous literary anthologies and magazines. Her poetry debut full length collection ‘Fire in the head’ was published in 2018. Here is some more info about SM. (Detailed post with poetry links!) 

picture of old-fashioned typewriter

What sort of topics do you write about?

(SMJ) My poems are inspired by unspoken/ erased histories. For example, I wrote my poem about Anne Pratt when I found out that she was a Medway girl! She was a self-taught botanical illustrator, and she was taught at Eastgate house. Until recently there was no mention of her at all. Especially local history. It bothered me that I had been to/ past this building so many times & had no idea about her. Other poems are inspired by the beautiful landscape of Medway. I guess I write about things that I am afraid of losing, to keep them preserved in some way.
What are you working on now?
(SMJ) A chapbook with Rosemary McLeish written in response to 'the unspoken aspects of war', it covers a lot of ground. Working with Rosemary really stretched and challenged me. She’s inspired me to have courage. I’m sorry she won’t see it in print. Her work is amazing. Breathtaking honest and a timely riposte to a lot of some rather rose-tinted ideas about the war, about the empire. It's some of her most challenging work. I’m also now working on my second solo collection. I want to explore a little more about my mother’s unspoken stories and history, what it means to be a second generation Irish woman. I can be brave about it, because of women like Rosie.
What writers do you like/admire?
(SMJ) Famous ones? Dylan Thomas, Angela Carter, William Blake and WB Yeats obviously, Kate Bush, Maeve Brennan, Carol Ann Duffy and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.
Rosemary McLeish obv., Spreken, Setareh Ebrahimi, John Wilmot. I’ve found that attending the Confluence sessions has exposed me to many writers, and I admire their work. You’ve gathered a terrific ensemble of writers in the @Wrdsmithery publishing house.
What was the idea behind your forthcoming collaboration with Rosemary McLeish?
(SMJ) We were inspired by the number of collaborative poetry projects that are going on right now. For me it was 'one mans trash', collaboration between Spreken and Matt. We liked each others’ work, so the only question was, what to write about. As feminists, this informed our ideas, We realised how much of the reality of women's lives is forgotten or erased. There were a lot of myths milling about how wonderful “the war” was, Bulldog spirit and all that jazz. when the reality is that for civilians and women particularly was different. Many things had remained unspoken. It needed to be said. And that was our starting point.
Did you find it easy or hard to collaborate on a poetry collection with another poet?
(SMJ) Rosie was easy to work with, brave, honest and encouraging. But also not allowing me to take an easy option. All I had to do was respond to what she had written, stay within the brief and be honest. The quality and honesty of her work encouraged me out of my comfort zone. She had a real spark to her, and this can encourage you to do more than you thought possible.
What are your tips for juggling real life with poetry?
(SMJ) I find deadlines really help. I know how tricky it is to balance paid work, caring and general life with trying to also be a creative person. It’s easier to find slots of time if I can see that there is a goal to meet. I know how to ration time then. If I have a poem that’s due at the end of the month, I can then plan out slots of time to write in. It gives me an incentive. Ask yourself: Is this necessary? Also, “how does this help me"? Does it give me a chance to develop as a writer? or to get my work seen?

Details about the #WFest are available here:
Here you can watch some videos of SM Jekin’s work:
Prisoner convention three poems Inverlair lodge (from my forthcoming collection with Rosemary McLeish. Rhiannons song (unpublished) and only a fool from Fire in the Head
And you can bookmark an interview for later!
YouTube interview: Thanet writers meet SM Jenkin
You can follow SM on social media.

Thursday, 23 April 2020

Virtual Prisoner Convention 2020 - Free For All

Due to the current Covid-19 outbreak, the Prisoner convention due to start at Portmeirion this weekend has been postponed.

However, a group of Prisoner fans, determined to have a good time, have decided to host a virtual Prisoner convention. This is an independent event, and is not connected to any club, society, business or other organisation. You do not need to be a member of any group, and participation is Free for All!

The event will be hosted online here:

There's a terrific line-up of events including interviews, virtual poetry and much more.

The virtual convention opens on Friday, 24 April 2020 at 7pm.


Saturday, 4 April 2020

Goodreads - new author page

I have recently discovered an exciting website called Goodreads.

An online forum where people can share their passion for literature, discuss their reading and expand their boundaries. Have you been to see it yet?

I have set up an author page - please check it out at 

Thursday, 3 October 2019

National poetry day -#truth. Child of softer days

I am a child of softer days,
sheltered in the fur of the
Celtic tiger, skins thrown over the
bare bones of the wild Atlantic
Way. My summer visits
home were warm, my tread
softened by busy hands.

I am a child of softer days,
resting on the feather bed made
by my mother, clean conditioned
hospital corners shaped in the
Victorian shade of all saints hospital.
NHS lino breaking the hungry brick
Of Dicken's workhouse.

I am a child of softer days,
cushioned by my mother's silence
from the broken glass of 1970s
England, shattered during three-day
weeks, bins caressed by ruptured
black bin bags, caressed by hungry
rats in ghost towns along the chalk-lined
Paddy was just my uncle's name.

I am a child of softer days,
the fall of October's ripened
fruits will bruise me.
Will cut my tongue.
I am a child of softer days.

Sunday, 29 September 2019

Inktober 2019 prompt list - as Gaeilge!

I'm keen to learn Calligraphy. There is something beautiful about the flow of the lines, and I've been introduced recently to the exciting possibilities opened up by introducing bleach to ink. 
Official Inktober Logo
I'm hoping to combine this with a little bit of Irish language learning that has, alas, fallen by the wayside of late.
To do this, I'm going to participate in Inktober. The idea is to create a design in ink and to share it. There are 31 prompts, one for each day of October. They have been translated into different languages.
If you'd like to join me, a friend of my cousin has been kind enough to translate the official Inktober 2019 prompts into Irish. They are as follows:
1. Ring Fáinne (a ring) / glaoch (to ring/to call)     17. Ornament Ornáid

2. Mindless Neamhaireach / Faillíoch                    18. Misfit Aonarán / Duine corr
3. Bait Baoite                                                            19. Sling Guailleán  
4. Freeze Reo                                                            20. Tread Satailt   
                                                                                    (satailt bróg –  the tread of shoes)
5. Build Tóg                                                        
(teach a thógáil – to build a house)                           
21. Treasure Taisce
6. Husky Huscaí (dog) / Piachánach (of voice)      22. Ghost Taibhse

7. Enchanted Siabhartha                                          23. Ancient Ársa
8. Frail Lag / Leochaileach                                      24. Dizzy                                                                                                        Meadhránach
9. Swing Luascán (a swing)/ Luascadh (to swing)  25. Tasty Blasta  
10. Pattern Patrún                                                      26. Dark Dorcha
11. Snow Sneachta                                                     27. Coat Cóta
12. Dragon Dragún                                                    28. Ride  Síob (lift) 
                                                                                    / Marcaíocht (horse/fairground)
13. Ash Fuinseog (tree) / Luaith (ash/dust)               29. Injured Gonta 
14. Overgrown Mothrach                                       30. Catch Beir ar... 
                                                                                       (beir ar an liathróid –                                                                                        catch the ball)
15. Legend Finscéal                                                     31. Ripe Áibí
16. Wild Fiáin

@Inktober   #inktober   #inktober2019   #Gaelige #CúplaFocal

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