Where is poetry going in Thanet?

Does poetry in Thanet exist in a bubble or is it more outward looking? Is it something solid that is growing or something that is over-inflated and will soon go pop?

I think most of us would probably answer that poetry in Thanet is substantive, outward looking, and has a bright future. I know that I would.

What is that bright future? Do we know? Can we know? Even if we can’t know, can we help decide what that future is?

Thanet Creative Writers is holding a Council of Poets to combine the sharing of verse with discussion about where we want to see poetry in Thanet going next. This gathering, I hope, will be the first step towards establishing what form the proposed new Poetry Circle will take.

The council of Poets will take place at our usual venue (address at the bottom of most pages) at half past seven on the 30th March. Places are limited and they are going pretty quickly. So make sure you reserve a space by asking me in person or just set yourself as “going” on the Facebook event.

We will consider the following questions (in between sharing our own poetry).

  • What do we poets in Thanet need?
  • Does poetry in Thanet have a future?
  • What is the future of Thanet’s poetry?
  • How can TCW help enhance the local poetry scene?
  • Do you want to make this a regular event?

Mostly, I imagine, we will be sharing rhymes and drinking tea.

Where do you see Thanet’s poetry going in the near and not so near future?

Thanet literary connections

The Isle of Thanet has a rich history of literary connections. Which is marketing speak for lots of interesting writers have been connected with Thanet.

In addition to the lively and varied Thanet literary scene that make up the community of writers and poets in Thanet, there have been a good many famous writers from the area.

  • Jefferson Hack, (born 20 June 1971), publisher, journalist and model, lived for many of his childhood and teenage years at Beach Grove, Cliffsend, near Ramsgate.
  • Karl Marx (1818–1883) is known to have stayed in Ramsgate some nine times. As did his comrade Friedrich Engels. His eldest daughter Jenny Longuet Marx (1844–1883) lived for a period at 6 Artillery Road.
  • John Buchan (1875–1940) was rumoured to have based his thriller The Thirty Nine Steps on the set of steps on the beach at North Foreland, Broadstairs, where he was recuperating from a duodenal ulcer in 1915.
  • Brian Degas, author, writer and creator of the TV Series Colditz, lives in Broadstairs.
  • Charles Dickens, novelist, had a holiday home in Broadstairs, where he wrote David Copperfield. For a period he owned Fort House on a promontory above the town, where he wrote Bleak House, which the location is now called.
  • Frank Richards (pen name of Charles Harold St John Hamilton; 1875–1961), writer of the Billy Bunter novels, lived in Kingsgate, Broadstairs.
  • Stevie Smith, poet, spent several years on and off in a sanatorium near Broadstairs while suffering from tuberculous peritonitis as a child.
  • Iain Aitch is an English writer and journalist who was born in Margate. I’ve never met him but he seems like a decent chap.
  • T. S. Eliot, poet, wrote part of The Waste Land in Margate in 1922, whilst recuperating from nervous strain.
  • Marty Feldman, comic writer and comedian, began his career aged 15 as part of a circus-style act at Dreamland (Margate).
  • Matthew Munson, author, lives and works in Thanet. Matthew Munson is a really nice bloke and you should buy him a coffee if you get the chance. His third book is coming out soon, so don’t miss it.

Are there any famous (or almost famous) writer that I have missed out? Tell me about them in the comments section below.

Why Thanet Creative Writers exists

I am a contradiction – my grammar is poor, my spelling is horrendous, and my grasp of the English language is rudimentary at best. But I love writing.

I love talking about writing with other writers. I love seeing writers succeed – seeing good writers walk the path that takes them to being great writers.

More than that, I love seeing people who never thought they could write go on to realise that they are writers.

That last point, seeing writers realise they can, was an eye opener for me. I never realised how much I would love seeing that happen until the day I first saw it happen.

One day I might tell that story but all that love is not why we formed Thanet Creative Writers but it is a large part of why we keeping doing what we do.

So why did we start?

Back in 2010, I started saying to people “do you want to start something for writers?” I did that one very simple reason – I love writing but being a writer alone is hard.

Skip forward to 2013 and four people, all of whom had toyed with writing, got together. We did that not because anyone was making us but, like me, those other writers did not want to be writers alone.

Being a writer alone means that when you get stuck with a plot point there is no one to ask for advice.

Being a writer alone means that if you don’t quite get how to write strong dialogue, there is no one to nudge you in the right direction.

Being writer alone means having no peers to give you feedback or to learn from.

Being a writer alone means that you never, ever, get a chance to see inside the creative process of another writer. You get to see finished books on shelves and are left wondering – “how do I get there?”

Being a writer alone means that you have no way to know if what you are writing is any good or how to make it good. More importantly, you have very few options to get help figuring out how to keep improving.

I knew full well that writers groups existed in Thanet. My dad used to take me to poetry circles when I was young. The chances were that there were more somewhere.

I had no idea how to find these groups. It was hard work to find even a clue of other groups and, at the time, what I did find online was so old I could not be sure that the group still existed. None of those few groups had Facebook, Twitter, or even email. That suggested to me that the people in those were probably a lot older than I was.

When I was a child, all the writers seemed to have been doing the same thing for a long time and they all seemed to know what they were doing. Whereas I, quite clearly, had no idea.

So I did what anyone else could have done. I called on my Facebook friends and three people answered the call. Then a few more. Then a few more. That was how Thanet Creative Writers was founded.

What we do is enable people to come together and share their love of writing. What we have is a vibrant community of people not only closer to my own age, but all ages. That gives us all the benefit of youth and aged wisdom at the same time.

That same vibrancy is present in our in-person events, in our social media “forums”, and in our wider writer’s community.

Whatever we do, it comes back to the same thing – we love writing and we want to be with other people who love writing.

If you love writing then come and join us.

Whatever you do, don’t be a writer alone.

Telling Stories at GEEK 2017

This weekend I went to GEEK (Game Expo East Kent) which took place in Dreamland, Margate. While I was there I encountered three forms of storytelling – two that work well and one that does not.

The Story of GEEK

The first form of storytelling was the story of GEEK and Dreamland. On day two I met the storyteller in residence. His job was to record and tell the story of GEEK.

One of the ways he did that was to ask people to place stickers on boards. One board (shown), gave an impression of where people had come from. People, it turns out, have come from all parts of the country and other countries too, just to visit the game expo in Thanet. There were four stickers from people who had come from Romania to visit Thanet for GEEK.

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While every one of the many thousands of people that came to GEEK has their story to tell, GEEK itself has a story. When it comes to writing that is something worth remembering – no matter who you are telling the story for, the place the story is set has it’s own march larger story. Or, to put it another way, individual characters have a story that is just a part of a richer tapestry of story.

I am glad that GEEK are tapping into the wider story and I am looking forward to reading the story of GEEK.

The story form that does not work

I got to talk to a whole bunch of games developers at GEEK. With some of them, I spoke, at length, about story.

One of the interesting topics to come out of those discussions was how games get pitched. More and more often there are games pitches which start and stop on the story the game will tell. More than one developer has wondered if these people are frustrated film producers.

Games are fundamentally things you play with. They can have story or not. A good story can lift a good game to new heights but a great story can do nothing for a poor game.

Between us, we listed several games where we would pay good money to see a film based on the plot but the game itself was not the least bit fun to play.

At the end of the day, games are a medium with priorities that do not always include storytelling. Yet, with the right foundations of play and mechanics, a good story adds a dimension to a game that can be created no other way.

It was, we agreed, best to start with the game first and follow up with the story.

Then we found an exception that proved us wrong.

The exception

Late in the day on Saturday, I got talking to John William Evelyn, an artist, who had stripped back the mechanics of gameplay to the bare minimum in order to convert the medium of game into a medium for story telling.

I sat and played an utterly compelling demo of The Collage Atlas which is an exceptionally beautiful and novel “game”.

You know me, I love story telling. It should not be a surprise to anyone that I was somewhat captivated by this relaxing game. I anticipate that The Collage Atlas will be a must have game for me when it comes out.

The lesson for us as writers here is this: Whatever form you tell your story in, make sure the story is allowed to shine.

Thanet Writers’ groups 2016 summary

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Thanet is a big place. Well, it is not that big, but it is plenty big enough for a whole load of writers’ groups.

Here is a big old list of writers groups. Every last one I could find. The good, the crazy and the sort of okay. If I found them, then they are here.

Thanet’s Writers’ Groups

Broadstairs Writers’ Circle meet on the first and third Monday of the month (except August) at the Brown Jug Inn; 7.30pm to 9.30pm.

Dead Island Poets. We know they meet in pubs around Thanet for open mic poetry nights and are run by a lady called Penny. As I couldn’t find a page to link to your best bet is to follow the Thanet Creative Writers group were Dead Island Poets events tend to get shared.

Hilderstone Writers’ Circle is, as far as we can tell, run by Maggie Solley at Hilderstone Adult Education College, Margate. I don’t have any further details but the contact number is 01843 860860.

Isle Writers gather 2.00pm – 4.00pm on the third Wednesday of each month (except December) at Broadstairs Library.

Inspirations hold their meetings between 11am and 1pm at Westgate Library on the fourth Saturday of each month (except December).

Thanet Creative Writers hold a number of events throughout the year. Matt hosts a weekly writers gathering at his home each Tuesday at 7:30pm (address at the bottom of most pages on this site) but there are other events which should be listed here on the website and on the Thanet Creative Writers Facebook page.

Thanet Writers (a group founded by, but no longer affiliated with, Thanet Creative Writers) meet every Thursday at about 8pm at the Chapel to critique work and discuss the running of their website.

Third Thursday Writers’ is run by Peggy Rogers and is a University of the Third Age (U3A) group. There is a waiting list to join in so you’ll need to make contact in advance.

Writers’ Circle is run by Maria Brown and is a University of the Third Age (U3A) group. You should probably use the contact form to find out more information.

Writers Unleashed meet in the Ravensgate Arms, King Street, Ramsgate at 8pm on the second monday of the month. The group is aimed at writers of Poetry, Prose, Flash Fiction, and Song to read or perform or listen to others.

I’ve tried my best to get as much useful information here so you can find a writers group that suits you. Things change and the details were as reasonably accurate as the sources I was able to look them up on when I wrote this list.

Over to you

  • Have I missed any writers’ groups out? Then tell me in the comments.
  • Do you go to a writers’ group? What’s it like?
  • Anything else? You know where the comments are.

 

5 ways to blog from Thanet

Thanet Creative Writers is all about creating opportunities for Thanet’s many writers. Some of us writers occasionally feel like blogging.

Blogging for related sites can be a great way to get new links and generally increase exposure for a website you already have up and running. It can also be a good way to just blow off some verbal steam on an issue that has you feeling all worked up.

If the thought of setting up and running you own blog site is a bit off putting, there are other opportunities. At least, in Thanet there are.

Here are just a few places that you can submit your thoughts for publication. None of them are likely to get you paid (directly) but if you just want to get your stuff out there then this might be the list for you.

Thanet Star

Thanet Star is a blog that has been going a long time and has built a solid reputation both with readers and with search engines. It deals with topics relating to Thanet but tends to have a news or politics slant a lot of the time.

Thanet Star is a good choice if you want to write about local events, politics, or life in general here in Thanet. They often post on the Thanet Star Facebook page that they are looking for guest writers.

Facebook, etc.

If your main objective is just to blow off steam, you don’t care about links, and the only people that you want to see your work are friends and family then Facebook, G+, and similar social media sites are probably the places to do it.

WordPress and Blogger

For the brave, there is always wordpress.com and blogger.com where you can click a few buttons, set up a website and publish stuff. The advantages are that you have full control but the downside is that you have to do a lot more work to get anyone to notice what you have written.

Huffington Post

If you feel your idea has legs and might be of interest to a much wider audience you can always pitch it to the Huffington Post.

Thanet Creative Writers (yes, us)

Let’s be honest, the Thanet Creative Writers information site is run on WordPress, so we might as well take advantage of being part of a blogging platform. If you would like contributor status and have been to one of our events (or are an established writer with a connection to Thanet), then just give us a shout. The more, the merrier.

To get involved as a contributor, either as a one-off or on a regular basis all you need to do is make contact with us. The Thanet Creative Writers group or the Thanet Creative Writers Facebook page are fine places to do that. If Facebook is not for you, then you can always pitch your ideas directly to us via the Thanet Creative Writers contact form here on the site.

Over to you

Do you agree with out list of places to get a blog post published? Do you feel we’ve missed one off – what would you add? Let us know in the comments below.