Here’s Nymphs & Thugs’s Matt Abbott with his monthly rundown of all that’s been happening in the world of spoken world.
It is now the year 2017, and since you’re reading this, presumably you’re lucky enough to still be alive. So, what’s happened since the last column? Salena Godden launched ‘LIVEwire’ in Soho, Kate Tempest was “utterly riveting” on her UK and Ireland tour, Hollie McNish performed with the Metropole Orkest in London and poetry started going viral in the aftermath of the US election. Not much, then.
In Nymphs & Thugs world, Salena Godden continues to steamroller the UK scene: we’ve had a great review in TVBomb; Tim Wells reviewed in the Rising zine and wrote a column in The Morning Star; and Salena was a guest on Literary Friction’s ‘Resistance’ episode. Jon More played a mix of ‘That’s All We Had, Dad’ on his Soho radio show, and Literary Hub published the essay ‘Shade’.
Speaking of the US election (much as we’d rather erase it from our memory), The Washington Post suggests that Trump’s America might best be explained by a poet, and spoken word fuelled student protests in Kentucky. On the flipside, WYNC produced a podcast on “finding poetry in the mundane”, and Buddy Wakefield explains how magnets are behind his writing.
On this side of the pond, Hull is set to take centre stage as our City of Culture. As part of the activity, BBC Radio 3 are hosting a three-day festival called ‘Contains Strong Language’, and Edinburgh-based troupe Neu! Reekie! will be taking their show to Humberside. And new poets across the North are able to apply for New Writing North and the Poetry School’s new mentoring scheme.
The scheme was announced around the same time that New Writing North published my feature on being a performance poet, which coincided with the ten year anniversary of my first ever spoken word performance. More importantly though, N&T label mate Toria Garbutt has announced a hat-trick of shows with Dr John Cooper Clarke in April.
Verve Poetry Festival in Birmingham looks set to be one of the spoken word highlights of 2017 next month; the Door-to-Door Poet continues to thrive in Newcastle; a successful poetry project is being offered to every school in Bradford; and the University of Manchester’s Feminist Collective hosted a spoken word event to showcase BAME voices.
Content wise, Attila The Stockbroker was a guest on The Mouth Magazine’s podcast; Kate Tempest interviewed John Cooper Clarke for Channel 4; Radio 3’s The Verb presented ten brand new poems from contemporary poets; and (even though Christmas has passed), Harry Baker produced this incredible ‘24 Christmases on Earth’ feature for BBC Radio 4 (trust me, it’s worth checking out).
BBC Arts provided a superb insight into Sabrina Mahfouz; Crysse Morrison was a guest on the Burning Eye podcast; Radio 4 gave us with this show from John Cooper Clarke and this drama piece from John Hegley; and the final Lunar Poetry Podcast episode of the year featured Savon Bartley, Belinda Zhawi and Travis Alablanza.
According to The New York Times, this is the best poetry of 2016. And it’s clear that female voices are dominating the poetry renaissance, as The Guardian look at how “young feminist writers are reclaiming poetry for the digital age” in this article; Palatine published this feature on Jess Green; and The Pool published this column on female voices in poetry.
Congratulations go to Rachel Long on winning the Poetry School/Paterson Poetry competition; A Firm Of Poets on fundraising at Trinity Homeless Projects’ Big SleepOut; Laurie Bolger and Erin Bolens on being featured in the Nationwide Voices ad campaign; and to Lagos International Poetry Festival on showcasing African talent during their second outing.
There’s loads more that I could cram in, but I’ll round-up by linking to this feature on The Poetry Project’s half-century of dissent; Spread The Word’s new Life Writing Prize; and brand new UK TV show ‘Lyrically Speaking’, which uses poetry to provide a voice for Muslim women. So, that’s where we’re at for the start of 2017! Here’s to another amazing year for spoken word…