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The Boom Of Spoken Word In London
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The Boom Of Spoken Word In London

Picture of Hayley Ricketson
Updated: 9 February 2017
Spoken Word is the infectious performance medium finding its home in places all over London. It has blossomed as a form of creative expression and has already built a steadfast community around it. The passionate performances, dynamic rhythm and playful language of spoken words hit your heart when you hear it. Collectives, open mic nights and workshops are popping up throughout London, and here’s a glimpse of what’s on offer.

Every spoken word night has a buzz, in the audience as another poet takes the stage and in the poets themselves as the words tumble from their mouths. Straddling the mediums of hip hop and poetry, the beauty in spoken word exists in the performance, when the poet offers a slice of their experience, their identity which the audience warmly accept.

Be warned of spoken word, though; it is highly addictive. The way these poets find words to fit the form and wrap their mouths around the sound always leaves you wanting more. They find new ways to speak about the personal, the political, or both at once. The rawness in these stories is inspiring.

Boxedin: An Evening of Spoken Word and Open Mic

The spoken word event, Boxedin, is held once a month and has been going strong for the past three years. It is a combination of feature performers and open mic. Quite literally boxed into a cosy part of Boxpark in Shoreditch, the stage is also a thoroughfare for the public, who (usually) wait patiently for a poem to finish before ducking across to the other side. The wonderfully affable and charismatic hosts set the tone for this night, making performers, audience and the public all feel right at home. The event is currently free but there are plans to move the event and combine it with DJs as well, making for a ticketed night, at a reasonable price of course.

Hearing seasoned poets and up-and-comers is a thrilling experience, as their skills are refined and their confidence solid. But it can be intimidating to someone who has never taken the stage before, but wants to. Spoken Word London holds an event every second Wednesday at Vogue Fabrics in Dalston which is purely open mic, giving everyone willing an opportunity to test out whatever they’ve written, be it poetry, music or otherwise.

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Forget What You Heard (About Spoken Word)

Forget What You Heard (About Spoken Word) is held one Wednesday every month at Ryans N16 in Stoke Newington. For £3, there are featured performances, live music and an open mic element. The fantastic hosts create a warm and friendly environment, full of love and respect for the form. They also have a podcast for each event, highlighting the features of the night, so you never miss out!

Ryans N16, 181 Stoke Newington Church St, London, UK

Out-Spoken

Out-Spoken happens on the last Tuesday of every month, offering the latest from some of London’s leading poets, rappers and musicians. It has no open mic section, but consistently boasts a stellar line-up and offers a highly impressive masterclass once a month, details of which can be found here. Tickets can be bought for £10 on the door or online for £8 and it is the place to go to hear some truly awe-inspiring poetry.

The Forge, 3-7 Delancey St, London, UK

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Rhymes With Orange

Also a monthly event, Rhymes With Orange takes place on a Thursday night at Bedroom Bar in Shoreditch. They have featured artists performing ten minute slots, a limerick challenge and also an open mic section where the poets performing have the chance to win a feature slot at the next event. Tickets are £5, a bargain if you see the calibre of performers.

The Bedroom Bar, 62-68 Rivington St, London, UK

Hammer & Tongue

Hammer & Tongue is a huge poetry slam with events around the UK, including Bristol, Brighton, Cambridge, Camden, Hackney and Oxford. They pride themselves on creating and promoting new champions in spoken word and focus on touring their poets around the UK. The Hackney event happens on the first Tuesday of every month at the Book Club. The Camden event happens the second Monday of every month at The Green Note.

The Book Club, 100-106 Leonard St, London, UK

Green Note, 106 Parkway, London, UK

Chill Pill Collective

The curators of the Chill Pill Collective include Radio 4’s Bespoken Word and Rhyme and Reason host, Mr Gee, as well as Raymond Antrobus, Deanna Rodger, Adam Kammerling and Simon Mole. Their laidback vibe ensures a smooth line-up of featured artists as well as a small open mic section, if they’ve got time for it. Ticket prices vary from £8 to free, depending on the event and the venue.

Whether you want to get up onstage yourself or just be inspired by the words and rhythm of some amazing performers, London’s spoken word community will, without a doubt, have something fit for you.