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We Are Kent poem

To celebrate our 50th anniversary, we invited all Kent alumni, staff, students and friends of the University to become co-authors of a crowdsourced poem. We gathered your words and memories from social media, emails, letters and memory cards written at 50th anniversary events.

Alumnus Dan Simpson (Rutherford, 2005), our poet in residence at the 50th Festival, helped us to create this patchwork-poetry masterpiece: the We Are Kent poem, which he fittingly ended with a quote from Julian Norwich in T.S. Eliot Little Gidding. Dan first read the poem at the Eliot and Rutherford gala dinners on Super Saturday of the 50th Festival.

We are Kent

To all to whom these presents shall come:

And they came, cheerful, aloof
confident and bewildered
with their guitars and books
hockey sticks and transistor radios
to create traditions and set the patterns
for thousands of students to come.

As the world was turning
we came – not by car, train, or plane
but floating on clouds of dreams
to rows of builders on a building site.

What we were doing, we all wondered?
In a ground floor room in Eliot
we greeted our new academic selves
all gathered, sitting on the bed
having wine out of just two cups
and feeling like it was home immediately.

Excitement – feeling that this was a page turning
but crying a lot the first week
riddled with the infamous fresher's flu
there were a lot of cheesy chips
smoke-filled corridors and porters' curfews.

Fifty is the sum of three squares and six Colleges
whose names I know
measuring the speed of light
I thought in circles
being proved wrong about thinking
I was better than others
and falling in love with people for that
Brownian motion forever
I met the love of my life in the physics lab –
shall I compare thee to Rutherford Bar?
No. Because it is closed.

At the end of a relationship
you cry into the Brussels sprouts
into Jaeger bombs and snakebites at the Venue
late night veggie burgers in Keynes Burger Bar
into fajitas at Origins
at Massive Mungos and its endless fire alarms.

An explosion of memories
nostalgia, in every stone and brick
transmitted through the pipes in Eliot College
three years of learning, arguing, protesting
provoking, reading, writing, loving, laughing…

Long library nights
smelling of fluorescent light
walking through the orchard to Canterbury
the silence of snow on campus
the biting wind on the underway
sharing the campus with tap-dancing seagulls
rabbits running on footpaths
looking over the cathedral sunsets
still laughing.

We were pioneers
and are friends
it was the people who made Kent Uni what it was.
I hope my daughter makes it to Kent too
Kent is a family, whatever the distance
a place in which Europe could meet the world
and the world could meet Europe.

A place of lights and learning
keeping those candles alight
that vision burning
realising the world was a whole lot bigger:

that all people
of all times
from all countries
with all beliefs
can and do work
and are awesome.

We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.

And all shall be well.
And all manner of thing shall be well.


Thank you to Miles Banbery (Darwin, 1990), Valeria Bannikova (Rutherford, 2014), Diana Barnes (Eliot, 1969), Dimitra-Evdoxia Batsiou (Rutherford, 2007), Caroline Bellhouse (Rutherford, 1986), Jonathan Bennet (Keynes, 1968), Octave Bory-Bert (Darwin, 2005), David Colbus (Eliot, 2014), Melissa Gibson (Rutherford, 2005), John Harwood (Eliot 1965), Lydia Holt (Darwin, 2007), David Hornsby (Eliot, 1966), Valeria Hornsby (Rutherford, 1966), Ashley Hugot (Eliot 2013), Flavio Iorio (Rutherford, 1981), Laura James (Eliot 2003), Dave Kilroy (Darwin 1969), Juliette King (Rutherford, 2005), Mary Ann le Lean (Keynes, 1989), Diana May (Eliot, 1965), Valerie O'Brien (Rutherford, 1969), Dr. Faysal Mikdadi (Eliot, 1973), Margarita Mouzaka (Rutherford, 1997), Tammy Naidoo (K11), Panagiotis Pantelis (Eliot, 2000), John Platt (Rutherford, 1965), Emanuel Poche (Darwin, 2013), Jennie Redman (Darwin, 1969), Alastair Ross (Rutherford, 2003), Caroline Seville (Rutherford, 1967), Hannah Sherbrock-Cox (Eliot, 2009), Karina Sirakjana (Rutherford, 2014), Katrine Solvaag (Eliot, 2014), Nick Wellings (Keynes, 2001), Simon Westerman (Staff), Dr. Robert Willis (Dean, Canterbury Cathedral), Jennifer Wright (Eliot, 2003), Louise Wright (Rutherford, 1987).


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