Residents’ favourite memories and stories of Medway’s city centre have been weaved into a patchwork poem.
The exciting poetry project celebrates everything Chatham, and the surrounding areas, has to offer and was launched by Poet Laureate Simon Armitage when he visited Chatham Library earlier this year as part of his 10-year tour of libraries across the UK, using the alphabet as a compass.
Residents were encouraged to share their favourite memories, places, facts and historical stories of Chatham which have been included in the poem.
The poem is now on display in Chatham Library in Dock Road for residents to enjoy.
Chatham Patchwork poem 2022
On chance nights
we crack the river air with memories
that laugh like thunder.
My first Dickens festival, riding a galloping
wooden horse, whose tails would swoosh painted
bright red, laughing to myself, waving to the children,
like when I was 6. I was smiling today;
hello Chatham, in Medway, I heard myself say.
I remember hanging out in big green fields,
growing up playing Kerby and hanging out
down the Luton rec, those days were the best.
Bulldog was the game of choice.
Sitting by the lakes at Capstone Park,
listening to the birds and hearing dogs bark.
When sweets was cheap and money would last,
walking to school without a care, visiting the Links
for a cheap fizzy pop or two.
Princes Park was where I roamed.
At first, I planned my visits here,
to stop and enjoy the sun by the river.
It felt like holidays; gulls darting around,
the sound of boats on water,
warm rays on my skin.
I watch the people now, more than the birds.
There are regulars here. Seeing the familiar scenes
reassures me of life outside my own bubble.
It brings a sense of perspective
and I find peace here, sitting on a Medway bench.
I remember the Straw people lined up near the
Brook theatre, strong and purposeful,
dancing at the Sun Pier festival, knitting with wire.
I dream links of baby chain mail for the rats.
Latino's is my favourite place in the Pentagon.
After Lockdowns the first thing I did was return
there for coffee, where the Chatham Brook pauses,
before rushing out into Rat’s Bay.
I walked along the riverside, and drew a
breath full of reeds, with wildflowers,
filling my pathetic lungs asthmatically rid,
wishing I had bought a Tupperware box for the
juicy large blackberries, that I moved
around in my mouth, as I picked.
Up Maidstone Road, home to Chatham Town FC,
I remember my brother, captain of St Mary’s catholic school
football team, holding the Cronin cup aloft, and my dad
filling it with coca cola, the sweetest it ever tasted.
Chatham, where no day is the same.
Chatham, where no matter your name,
culture, creed, or pigment of skin,
you will be always classed as kin.
Along Intra where memories are
stitched and woven into the bricks, guided by the
memory of William Cuffay’s steady tailor’s hands,
the acid plastic aroma of electricity burning
friends us, draws us, dressed as estuary mist.
Chatham is the place that become my home.
I like to still visit all these places now some are gone.
Memories last forever now my children come,
we all go these places together.
I stopped to write, by the river Medway,
I heard a person singing, their voice was like beauty,
she carried my poetry to her bosom and followed me
to Fort Amherst, Dockyard, then she disappeared, just like the
sun clearing the clouds, with their drawings gone.
Yet walk the streets of Medway and you will surely find
the living ghosts of history are never far behind.
The sound of brass and drums rolled out, black boots
in perfect time.
Soldiers trooped along Dock Road
parading guns and cannons, sailors piped aboard the
ships and passed the bull-nose fathoms.
The bustling River Medway, ships passing up and down,
cargoes from around the world unloaded in our town.
Children ran about the streets and
stood to watch in awe pageant scenes that filled
their world right outside their door.
Our towns have changed.
With what remains of good and old and grand,
We’ll build a better Medway, and give history’s
ghosts a hand.