CONFLUENCE: PLANTED; GROWN; NURTURED
Our project has ended but left us with a strong legacy
In October 2017, we were absolutely thrilled to find out that we had been awarded Arts Council England funding for our year-long Confluence: Plant; Grow; Nurture project, the aim of which was to enthuse and infuse Medway and beyond with words.
The three strands to the project were:
To plant the seeds of writing creativity with people who hadn't perhaps had a go at creative writing, through a series of zine-making and writing workshops, and opportunities to attend our various open mic live Roundabout Nights events throughout the year;
To grow the magazine, through redesigning its look and letting more people know about the magazine, creating a new website and to reach out to other writing organisations around the country;
To nurture the live literature scene in Medway and beyond through providing opportunities for performing at Roundabout Nights and contributing to the magazine, and to run a Writer Development Programme mentoring six local writers.
Throughout the year we ran 11 Roundabout Nights, giving over 85 established and new writers the chance to perform.
Readers at two special events had the opportunity to perform alongside well-known writers and performers Henry Normal and Atilla the Stockbroker.
We also took our Writer Development Programme writers on several away-days to perform and network at other nights across the country, including the Faversham Literary Festival, Dangerous Poetry in Southend, Something for the Weekend Festival in Gravesend and provided bursaries for the writers to attend the Edinburgh Book Festival, Poetry at the Parsonage at Haworth, Yorkshire, and the launch of Strix magazine in Leeds.
We hosted a weekend writers' retreat for our Writer Development Programme writers and mentors, which featured intensive workshops in story and performance from Iain Rowan, the director of the Sunderland Literary Festival, and writer and performer Lauren Gauge.
We ran over 80 workshops and training sessions, including one-to-one mentoring sessions for our Writer Development Programme Students, formal and informal training for our editorial team, and open access zine-making workshops, creative writing workshops and Writing for Wellbeing workshops with our charity partner IMHP.
We published 4 issues of the new look Confluence with contributions from 58 writers. Though most of those were from the UK, we also printed submissions from writers in America, Sweden, Japan, France and Germany, discovering writers that we think will be major voices in years to come.
17 new zines were created on our zine-making workshops, and several of our attendees have gone on to make more zines in their on time.
We created a new website (this one!)
We have made links with partners UK-wide and have plans to work on future literary projects such as a Confluence podcast.
What attendees said about the project:
"... we are very proud to have been associated with such a beautifully-crafted, well-planned and supportive programme for local writers, which resulted in such high quality experiences, writing and performances." Medway Council's Arts Development Officer
“Very good course that led me through the world of zines and opened my mind to the possibilities of how they can be used creatively. I liked the multitude of examples and how we were taken through the process of using the risograph. The tutoring was extremely helpful. I am now looking forward to using this more and more to create future works.” Attendee on our zine-making course
“Thoroughly enjoyable evening. Henry Normal was excellent as were the amateur poets who supported him.” Attendee at Roundabout Nights presents Henry Normal
“Attended both the writing and the zine workshops. So great to see people enjoying creative activities in such a fun and relaxed way. Led by people who are clearly leaders in the artform and also incredibly passionate, even as a beginner I was able to participate fully and really let my creativity flow. Great to see people working individually, developing new skills, but also enjoying being part of a larger group as they did this." Attendee of creative writing and zine-making courses
"I learnt to accept that my writing was worth the effort. Although I had been published in many places I always suffered from impostor syndrome. I hardly ever submitted any poetry before starting the scheme... To date, I will have had various pieces of work printed in 14 anthologies by the end of the year. And, of course, I would never have thought of standing up to read my work to an audience before." Writer Development Programme graduate
"My confidence has grown - I now enjoy performing my work and don't let the nerves spoil the experience. I've met all kinds of people with different styles and talents that I wouldn't have met but for this course. I've become more open to reading a wider range of writing than I would have before the course." Writer Development Programme graduate
"I think that the talent is always great, and I think that the organisers are always looking for new talent, and introducing people to the area. I think that they are also amazing mentors and I feel that Barry Fentiman-Hall has mentored me during my poetry career, and continues to do so. I feel like Roundabouts always tries new things, like having gigs in Museums and at Festivals. Two of my favourite events was an event about women in war in Gillingham, which inspired me to write a poem I would have not otherwise written, and an event at a festival in Gravesend." Roundabout Nights performer
"I hadn’t tried writing poetry since Primary School. The writing workshop opened up to me a range of inspirational sources, but it also ‘did what it said on the tin’ - I had an uplift in my well-being." Attendee at Writing for Well-being workshops
"I love the welcoming atmosphere, the inclusiveness and hearing all the different and interesting writing that people create." Roundabout Nights attendee
We were really happy about how popular this project was and the long-term positive affect that it's had on people's creativity and well-being in the area of Medway and beyond. Our Writer Development Programme graduates have all achieved personal goals of publishing, performing, submitting work, or simply learning more about the craft of writing. Our editorial team and mentors have followed their own development programmes, learning more about printing processes and writing techniques. We have made links with other writers and literary organistions throughout the country. We feel that due to this project, Wordsmithery and Confluence is at a stage to go on and make bigger and better literary projects.
We would like to thank the Arts Council England, our partners (Paint the Town Festival, Sunderland Creative Writing Festival, IMHP), our editorial team, and mentors (Bill Lewis, Angela Dye, Sarah Hehir), Medway Council's Arts Development Team who gave us additional support, and Medway libraries who provided space for workshops. And of course, like all our projects, a big thank you to everyone who attended, as without you, we wouldn't have a project!