Richard Burns is a poet, who played a key part in encouraging The Medway Poets group. He has provided the following statement on this:
I was Writer-in-Residence at the Victoria Centre for two years between 1979 and 1981. In 1980, I published the Gravesham anthology Rivers of Life. This included work by Alan Denman, Jean Denman, Bill Lewis, Sexton Ming, Charles Thomson and many others - including Tom Gunn, Nicholas Moore and Michael Baldwin. I also edited the press's first two books by the fine local poets Margaret Browne and Jon Bye, and launched a poemcard series. I hosted readings in which Bill Lewis, Sexton Ming and (I think) Charles Thomson took part. I also organised readings by Henry Stamper and Vernon Scannell, a concert with Jon Betmead and, best of all, a reading/concert by Sydney Carter for hundreds of local schoolchildren. This was a totally wonderful occasion. When Sydney said, quietly, "I think you'll probably know this one," and started singing 'Lord of the Dance', the way that all the kids joined in was like a slow mounting tidal wave, like in Blake's poem 'Holy Thursday' about the children singing in St. Pauls: "Now like a mighty wind they raise to heaven the voice of song." Pure epiphany. I think this may well have been how Sydney and Bill Lewis first got together. Ming also attended some of my poetry workshops along with middle-aged and elderly ladies. I read with various fledgling-Stuckists down in Chatham. As founder of the Cambridge Poetry Festival in 1975, I also got the Medway Poets group invited to perform at the 1981 event. As far as poetry is concerned, my own view is that, of all the members of this group who had such varied and brilliant talent as students, twenty five years later Bill Lewis is the one who really endures as a poet. His voice is deep, original, authentic and pure.
- Richard Burns 12.9.06