Pictures needed to illustrate Tonbridge ‘People’s Poem’
by Andy Tong | 3rd January 2019
A PROJECT called Tonbridge in Words and Pictures has been launched to help illustrate a ‘People’s Poem’ about the town.
The scheme, launched by the Tonbridge Town Team [TTT], calls on residents to submit photos of the town to accompany the words collated by Charlie Bell and the Roundel Poetry group.
The poem ‘Always Part of Me – Tonbridge Voices’ was developed while the English Civil War re-enactment was being held in May, based on contributions by members of the public [see below].
TTT intend to publish a selection of the images alongside the poem in a booklet and display them in a range of other media.
Howard Porter, TTT’s chairman, said: “Supporting the arts and culture is a part of our remit to promote Tonbridge as a great place to work, live, shop and socialise.
“The arts contribute towards a socially inclusive and economically vibrant community,” he added.
“We aim to put Tonbridge on the map as an arts and cultural centre.
“All contributions are welcome. We are not looking for postcards or perfect pictures. We’d like to see quirky and interesting perspectives.”
The entries can simply be posted on the Facebook page @TonbridgeWordsAndPictures.
You can post other formats such as drawings, paintings, collage and mixed media, but they must be photographed and sent to the Facebook page.
Mr Bell set up a stand at the re-enactment and asked the public to either write a short verse or describe their feelings about Tonbridge.
Margaret Beston, founder of the Roundel group, said: “He collated these into a first draft, then a group of us met up and edited them.”
She established Roundel in 2012 after the Tonbridge Arts Festival, which included a poetry competition. “I was amazed to meet so many local poets, all – like me – writing in isolation, so I decided to set up a group for us all. That was seven years ago and we are still going strong.”
The roundel is a poetic form, but the word also has Kentish connotations with oast house roofs.
In October, Roundel member Jacquie Wyatt organised the Poetry Trail in the High Street.
This consisted of 24 poems posted in as many different shops, written by 24 different poets.
Always Part of Me – Tonbridge Voices
Excerpts of the community poem assembled from contributions by the people of Tonbridge:
I’ve lived in all sorts of places
but settling in Tonbridge
is the best decision I ever made.
The heart of rural England
My tiny son walks himself up the castle mound.
I don’t know if I like that best,
or the violets and primroses up the slope.
I’ve liked living here for 54 years
Rolling down banks,entry to the lawn,
castle as backdrop, memory line drawn.
Fast forward 30, my children do the same.
The castle lawn has built memories
with Tonbridge in their name.
Must be something right about Tonbridge
Lazy Sundays, wild strawberries on the castle mound,
chatty people milling around.
Friendships, coffee, yarns –
a wonderful community spirit.
I never knew Tonbridge was so old or so important
Tonbridge Castle like a golden honeycomb
duck egg sky behind while the muddy Medway
winds its way to the chilly sea.
For hundreds of years your glorious stones
stood proud high on the hill, river at your feet,
the heart of this ancient market town,
a golden beacon calling us home.
My place of birth, always part of me
With castle towering high above,
and green grass gently blowing,
our Tonbridge, the jewel of Kent,
with the Medway gloriously flowing.
Lashings of history...and so much mystery
You have stood the test of time
providing shelter and safety.
Burgeoning bright under the low hung night.
Meandering river – the heart of the town.
I heard that at night all the cats come to the castle to have a party
Tonbridge – Let’s list its praises:
vibrant, dynamic, inclusive, caring
ancient, proud of its history,
open spaces and greenery,
where the river gently flows.
The heron stands in perfect silence, like a solitary sentry.