What's On

Matt Abbott’s Spoken World


Shane Koyczan

As everybody at N&T works furiously behind the scenes before an explosive spring, it’s the written word which leads the way for this month’s column. Firstly, you can enjoy an intoxicating insight into the world of Salena Godden with this interview for The Woven Tale Press. Also, poetry submissions are now open for issue 4 of our SOAPBOX zine, which is launched in Leeds on 23 March.

I wrote about the relationship between poetry and politics for UK site Culture Matters and Russian blog Versed Games, and on the live front, Toria Garbutt has announced two more dates on the John Cooper Clarke tour, including Wakefield and Durham. So, that’s not a bad start to proceedings. Oh, and also, nominations are now open for this year’s Saboteur Awards, so if you want to nominate any of our albums for Best Collection, or our good selves for Most Innovative Publisher, then that of course would be very much appreciated.

There’s fantastic news for Shane Koyczan fans, as he’s due to tour the UK and Ireland from 10-17 May. You can view the full listings on his official website. Also, The Last Word Festival returns to the Roundhouse in Camden this spring, with a plethora of performances from artists including Sabrina Mahfouz, Caleb Femi, Madi Maxwell-Libby, and our very own Salena Godden. Speaking of festivals, Verve Poetry Festival recently took place in Birmingham and was a huge success, so many congratulations to their organisers and everybody that took part.


Madi Maxwell-Libby

In terms of individual shows, Cecilia Knapp recently spoke about her brother’s suicide ahead of a special performance of ‘Finding Home’ in Stratford on International Women’s Day; Kate Tempest is performing ‘Let Them Eat Chaos’ in Brixton on 27 May; and Vanessa Kisuule is receiving great reviews for her ‘Sexy’ show. North of Watford, Rowan McCabe’s ‘Door-to-Door Poetry’ project continues to flourish, and spoken word is on the bill for this year’s 6Music Festival in Glasgow.

We also have some great local scenes thriving in the UK: ‘Raise The Bar’ is going strong in Bristol, Hastings is growing in confidence thanks to a grassroots movement; Nottingham’s ‘Poetry Is Dead Good’ night is receiving a lot of attention; Manchester’s “anarchic literary scene” is celebrated in The i paper; and the Brighton Fringe line-up has been announced, with Kate Tempest guesting as co-director.

In the US, Tyson Amir continues to gather pace with his urgent and political collection ‘Black Boy Poems’; Chicago-based rapper Noname discusses how spoken word and Def Jam Poetry influenced her career; Morgan Parker speaks about her new Beyoncé inspired collection (reviewed here in the Washington Post); and US-based spoken word duo Mother Tongue are using their words to address a range of socio-political issues.


Tyson Amir

Elsewhere in the world, Ghanaian poet Asatra Asantewa is making waves; Somalia’s diaspora poets are stepping into the mainstream; Gombilla The Poet challenges preconceptions about African history; Hussain Haidry captures what it’s like to be an Indian Muslim in 2017; and Canadian poet Norman Nawrocki addresses the migrant crisis on his new album.

Content-wise, the Refugee Week special on Scroobius Pip’s ‘Distraction Pieces’ podcast is essential listening; Salena Godden provided us with this beautiful radio play on Valentine’s Day; Melbourne Spoken Word launched a new podcast; Potent Whisper was attacked by fascists on a video shoot in Belgravia; and 34 poets of colour summarise 2017 in verse.

And that’s pretty much all I can fit in. But compared to next month’s column, this one will be quiet, so I look forward to battling the word count on that one. Plenty to enjoy for this month though, I hope – thanks for reading as ever…


  • Salena Godden, Poetry JAM, Northampton, 4 March | Tickets
  • Cecilia Knapp, Finding Home, London, 8 March | Tickets
  • Jonathan Eyre & Hannah Batley, Poetry & A Pint, Leeds, 9 March | Facebook event
  • A Firm Of Poets, Ted Hughes Festival, Barnsley, 10 March | Tickets
  • Jonny Fluffypunk & Jo Bell, Bang Said The Gun, Stafford, 12 March | Tickets
  • Salena Godden, Book Slam x Wellcome Booke Prize, London, 13 March | Tickets
  • Caroline Teague & Daisy Thurston-Gent, Evidently, Salford, 14 March | Info
  • Rob Auton & Dominic Berry, Raise The Bar, Bristol, 15 March | Tickets
  • SOAPBOX issue 4, Creative Family Tree launch, Leeds, 23 March | Facebook event
  • Salena Godden, Red Raw, London, 24 March | Facebook event
  • Kriss Foster & Matt Abbott, Bang Said The Gun, Sheffield, 26 March | Tickets
  • Jess Green, Unity Words, Wakefield, 29 March | Tickets
  • Martin Figura & Brian Gittins, Bang Said The Gun, London, 30 March | Tickets
  • Dean Atta, Word Wise, Derby, 31 March | Tickets

Filed under: Written & Spoken Word