9 poetry & spoken word events in London

Bang Said The Gun - Photo: www.telegraph.co.uk

Bang Said The Gun – Photo: www.telegraph.co.uk

When I was at school, the word poetry used to make me want to come down with a ‘headache’ and run to the sick room (for about 45 mins until it was over… and then I’d amazingly recover. Especially if the next session was art. Or lunch).

Poetry nights are not what they used to be and if these here events had been around when I was younger in the way they are today, I’m certain I’d have felt very differently about the whole poetry world. Poetry is music, friends, laughter, NOISE, participation, exploration… and very little has to do with the rigidity of rhyming couplets.

I remember discovering Book Slam years ago and it was a proper awakening. SO exciting. And so completely not what I had ever thought of as poetry.

The art of poetry and the spoken word is alive and screaming in London town… and here are a few of the best places to venture to, if you’re seeking some of the good stuff out…

If you know of others I should add, please do leave me a comment – I’m certain I’ve missed some local treasures, but I’m only weeny and covering the whole of London makes for very sore legs.

Poppy x

Book Slam
(Locations vary – check their listings)

Book Slam was London’s first literary nightclub, which features all the top writers and the finest live music. Their guests have included the likes of Sam Smith, Hanif Kureishi, Dave Eggers, Adele, Nick Hornby, Kate Nash and many more…

Hammer and Tongue - photo:http://www.theartsdesk.com

Hammer and Tongue – photo: www.theartsdesk.com

Hammer and Tongue
The Book Club, 100-106 Leonard Street, London EC2A 4RH

The Hackney arm of Hammer & Tongue presents a year round programme of poetry slams with touring guest artists – the events take place on the first Tuesday of every month (except Jul-Aug).

“The best live poetry is to be found at the Hammer & Tongue slams” -The Sunday Times

Bang Said The Gun
Bloomsbury Theatre, 15 Gordon Street, London WC1H 0AH

Bang Said The Gun calls itself ‘the poetry event for people who don’t like poetry’.

“Emphasis on audience participation and having a damn good time has earned it a stellar reputation as one of the liveliest, loudest and most raucous poetry gatherings in the country” – The Londonist

“Comprehensively the best poetry gig I have ever been to… the finest portrayal of how performance poetry should be…” – Popshot Magazine

The Poetry Cafe - Photo: http://www.youngpoetsnetwork.org.uk

The Poetry Cafe – Photo: http://www.youngpoetsnetwork.org.uk

Poetry Uplugged
The Poetry Café, 22 Betterton Street, Covent Garden, London, WC2H 9BX 

Poetry Unplugged is London’s premier open mic session where people who have never read a poem in public can do so for the first time, or experienced poets can try out something new.

Chill Pill
(Locations vary – check their listings)

Curated by Mr Gee (host of Radio 4’s Bespoken Word and Rhyme and Reason), Raymond Antrobus, Deanna Rodger, Simon Mole and Adam Kammerling, Chill Pill is a laid-back club night where up-and-coming poets share the stage with some of the finest Spoken Word acts in the UK.

Jaw Dance
Rich Mix, 35 – 47 Bethnal Green Road, London, E1 6LA

Brought to you by Apples and Snakes and The Writing Room, Jawdtance is London’s biggest open mic night. Whether you’re a poet who loves to write and perform, or an audience member who just wants to sit back, relax and listen… this is the place.

Out-Spoken Live
The Forge, 3-7 Delancey Street, London, NW1 7NL

Out-Spoken takes place on the last Tuesday of every month at The Forge in Camden. An award-winning venue, that is beautifully designed and wonderfully intimate, The Forge has been specially crafted to suit natural acoustics and live performance, making it the perfect space to enjoy great spoken word and musical entertainment.

Tongue Fu - Photo: www.offwestend.com

Tongue Fu – Photo: www.offwestend.com

Tongue Fu
(Locations vary – check their listings)

Tongue Fu is one of London’s liveliest and best attended spoken word nights. It is a riotous experiment in live literature, music, film and improvisation; frequently surprising, sometimes hilarious, often poignant and always unrehearsed. Guests have included Kate Tempest, Lemn Sissay, Roger McGough, Scroobius Pip, Salena Godden, Robin Ince and many more.

“It’s poetry, but not as you know it…amazing” – The Guardian

Lyrically Challenged
Passing Clouds,  1 Richmond Road, London, E8 4AA

Lyrically Challenged is London’s biggest spoken word and hip hop event. Boom! 2nd Friday of every month, 8pm – 3am



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