Saboteur Awards: Best Regular Spoken Word Night

This month, we will showcase each of the works shortlisted in the Saboteur Awards by category. Next up: regular spoken word nights! If you’d like to have your say in the awards, don’t forget to vote!

Bad Language (Manchester)

“We’re chuffed to the rafters to be shortlisted for the Saboteurs. We’re only as good as our writer-performers, and we’ve been supported by a shed load of new and established talent on our stages. We’re biased, but Manchester and Salford has the most lively and committed spoken word audiences in the UK: we reckon this year’s Regular Night Saboteurs shortlist is testament to that. Thanks to everyone who voted for us so far.” Fat Roland, Bad Language co-host

Joe Daly
Joe Daly

Bad Language is dedicated to live literature in Manchester, with hosts JP Daly and Fat Roland running events with Manchester Literature Festival, Manchester After Hours and the Royal Exchange. Their regular night has featured Stuart Maconie, Helen Mort, Alison Moore and Liz Berry – but crucially, half its open mic spots are reserved for newcomers, making Bad Language one of the key live lit events for new writing talent. “Ask any writer in Manchester where to see live literature and they will all tell you: go, go, go to Bad Language.” Spotted By Locals (*****)

Bad Language are Joe Daly and Fat Roland in Manchester // Dan Carpenter and Nicola West in London / @BadLanguageMcr

What voters had to say:

Incredible open-micers for a free night, run with great friendliness & professionalism. Hugely encouraging to new performers, and fiercely promoting gender balance.

Always a quality evening of surprising and brilliant literature. Their regular nights are interspersed with great one-off events across Manchester and beyond, and they’re massively important to Manchester’s thriving live literature scene

Filthy tongues!

Bang Said the Gun (London, New York)

“Oh No…Not again!!!!”

BANG poster BLANK copy 3

Bang Said The Gun London and New York is the influential and ground breaking poetry event for people who don’t like poetry. The weekly Bang show grabs poetry by the shoulders and shakes it until dirty, funny and poignant words fall out. Described as “the best Poetry event in the Northern Hemisphere” makes the BANG team wonder what the hell is going down in the Southern Hemisphere. Now that the whole world has decided they actually like poetry does of course make it increasingly difficult to find people who don’t like poetry. The show still Rocks big time though!!!

What voters had to say:

I go to a great many spoken word events. BANG is the best in the country: lively, welcoming, professional to the nth degree behind its friendly facade, and a genuine transformer of the poetry landscape. The others are all good but only Bang regularly attracts people who do not identify as spoken word fans – just as people looking for a good night out.

To make people like poetry, bang is where you take them. It’s our gateway drug.

This night is genuinely fun, off-kilter, raucous, and the roll-on of the open mic winner nabbing a feature slot for the next night is a great idea.

Evidently (Salford)

Being shortlisted for Best Regular Spoken Word Night was completely unexpected and we’re so grateful that people felt like we were worth nominating. Ironically, for a spoken word event, words aren’t enough.


Evidently is a poetry night with an emphasis on entertainment, we want to challenge the preconception that some people have that poetry can be a dry subject.

We have created a warm and welcoming atmosphere for all performers, be they first timers or seasoned professionals.

We absolutely love what we do, we encourage a lively atmosphere from our audience, but the sense of community we now feel is something that has grown organically.

“Evidently, for my money, is without doubt one of the best spoken-word nights in the country” Andrew “Mullet-Proof” Graves

What voters had to say:

Because they are bringing live performance poetry back to the home of stand up poetry and John Cooper Clarke!

Clique-free accessible night that has shown how a high-quality event doesn’t need to happen in a fashionable venue.

The friendliest, most exciting night of spoken word, brilliantly hosted and put together by the team of Kieren King and Ella Gainsborough. First timers are made to feel welcome, and seasoned performers can’t wait to take part

Project U (Norwich)

Project U is still a youngster, so it’s very gratifying to receive some acclaim at such a young age. We’ll try not to let it go to our heads.


Project U is Unthank’s spoken-word prose event. In a short time it’s established itself as a friendly and playful space for writers to share their work. These lively evenings serve as a showcase for Unthology,Words and Women and the Unthank School of Writing.

What voters had to say:

There’s a wonderful atmosphere there – friendly yet serious about good writing. Well organised: no ‘free mike’ – just high quality storytelling and experiment.

Stirring, exhilarating, and very, very funny.

The readings are consistently excellent and there are always new people to meet. A thoroughly enjoyable and entertaining evening, every time.

Say Owt Slam (York)

We’d like to thank every slammer, every guest, every audience member and every supporter in celebrating spoken word from within the York scene and beyond our walls!

Say Owt Slam

Feminism! Anti-UKIP! Internet dating! Cowboy builders! Coffee! Anarchy! Sex! Pokémon! Greek myths! Body-positivity! Punk gigs! More anti-UKIP! In our short life, Say Owt Slam has seen poets from across York’s spoken word scenes and across the UK test their mettle in the bowls of the City Screen Basement. We’ve had walk-outs, we’ve had clicks, we’ve had tears, we’ve had laughter, we’ve sold out every gig and brought spectacular guest poets to the fair city. We’ve had poets who have never performed before, and we’ve had seasoned performers. When we say SAY OWT you say SLAM!

What voters had to say:

Tons of energy at this well loved venue. A real gem and true ambassador for the spoken word.

Great night allowing poets of all backgrounds and experiences!

Brilliant provider of a desperately needed platform.