James Walsh on the rise of the spoken word
If you’re an aspiring bard looking to showcase your wordsmith credentials, or just a casual punter looking to add a bit of variety to your mid-week social routine, then you are in luck, as the Liverpool poetry night is poised to resurrect its pre-lockdown success.
Liverpool is a place finely tuned to the imaginative flight of fancy
Being a spectator at a night of spoken word poetry involves laughing without watching a comedian, admiring some drama without seeing an actor, and appreciating some musical dexterity without an instrument in sight.
Within five minutes, you can go from hearing the surrealist turn-of-phrase of an octogenarian (“the sitting incumbent was apoplectic with chortle”) to the anarchic political commentary of a disaffected teen (“growling gleefully into the artifice of your violation”).
Liverpool is a place finely tuned to the imaginative flight of fancy, being deeply sympathetic to the weird and wonderful possibilities that the ancient art form of poetry offers.
Poetry nights in general foster an inclusive atmosphere, in which people of all ages and social bent come together to be heard in a charged but non-judgmental environment.
Read on for the best places to perform or find a night of alliterative entertainment in the city.
A Lovely Word takes place in the downstairs bar of the Everyman Theatre on the first Thursday of every month. There are 20 open mic spaces available per night, which do get full, so be sure to arrive early if you want to perform. Each performer is allocated five minutes and entry is free. There is also a nationally recognised headliner at each event, in which poets from across the UK and beyond come to perform in the spacious downstairs interior of the Everyman. Attached to the night, is "A Lovely Workshop", a monthly development workshop for poets looking to hone their craft.
Give Poetry a Chance is a monthly gathering coming from the hallowed downstairs space of the Jacaranda. Each night sees 12 pre-booked acts performing a ten-minute slot. Dan Cullinan, who hosts and runs the night, says booking acts in advance allows him to create customised posters for each performer, which provides them with something personal that they can use to promote their performance. There is also a Give Poetry a Chance anthology, containing the work of those who have performed at the event, with all profits made from the publication going to the Scouse Kitchen homeless charity.
Dead Good Poets’ Society is the longest running of Liverpool’s poetry nights (22 years and counting) and takes place at Blackburne House’s Garden Cafe. It's a twice monthly event taking place on the first and third Wednesday of each month. The night is open mic, so anybody wishing to perform can turn-up and put their name down for a five-minute spot. According to the Society, there will be numerous comfortable seats for audience members to sit in wonderment and appreciation and numerous opportunities for natter and laughter - not to mention the cafe's superb food and beverages available at very reasonable prices. They promise "Good beer and good cheer". There is a £2 entry fee.
The Liver Bards runs on the first Tuesday of every month at the always-something-going-on venue that is Ma Boyle’s. Taking place behind the curtain of the Rum and Rumour Basement Drinking Den and Kaberet Bar, The Liver Bards is an open mic event that begins at 7.30pm, offering wannabe acts a five-minute performance slot. In common with all the poetry nights, places go fast, so the advice is to arrive early to guarantee a spot. According to the event’s organisers, the night is a time and place for poets and those that like to be around them to get together and share their truths in an exquisite and intimate space. Entry for the event is free.
Have we missed your favourite poetry or spoken word event? Let us know: firstname.lastname@example.org
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