Saboteur Awards 2017: Spotlight on the Best Regular Spoken Word Night Shortlist

Last but not least: the final spotlight! Enjoy these glimpses into these regular spoken word nights and the place they’ve made in people’s hearts. You have until Sunday to vote, so don’t dither!

Evidently (Salford)

We are over the moon to have been shortlisted for a third year running and blown away that people have thought of us when there are so many great nights around the country. -Ella Gainsborough

Evidently is a spoken-word night bursting with talent, encouragement and enthusiasm. Recent guests have included Dan Simpson, Scott Tyrrell and Sara Hirsch and they were commissioned by Guy Garvey to curate a special Evidently as part of last years Meltdown Festival at the Southbank Centre.

Why voters think they should win:

  • They’ve helped build the Salford/Manchester scene into the best in the country. They also pay properly and book broadly. Nights like Evidently are why spoken word can continue as a genre, why it is possible to do this as a job (I would argue it’s a bit rich to have best regular spoken word nights even be eligible for this category when they don’t pay their acts. Particularly when they charge door fee and still don’t pay their acts. Surely those nights have profited off the scene enough without getting awards for it)
  • I’ve been to loads of different nights, and the Evidently folks know how to put together a brilliant night. They are slick without being pretentious. They give a platform to so many poets. They make the night about the poetry, not about themselves…really top stuff!
  • Always fresh, lively and different. Hosts go the extra mile to make first timers feel at ease

Interrobang?! (Edinburgh)

Wait, we’re not being trolled?! -Beth Cochrane

Interrobang: noun

A non-standard punctuation mark (‽) indicating a question expressed in an exclamatory manner, as in what the fuck are you doing‽

Interrobang is an Edinburgh based storytelling, poetry and live music night with a slightly different flavour?! Think democratic spoken word and adorably edgy sensibilities. Residents at Leith’s own Biscuit Factory, Interrobang has been exploring the boundaries between spoken word and the lyrical line. Hosted and produced by your charming curators Beth Cochrane and Ricky Monahan Brown.

Why voters think they should win:

  • Ambitious, innovative, and fun.
  • A constantly entertaining evening of great variety playing to packed houses in Edinburgh venues. Well worth the journey.
  • They’re bringing a new kind of spoken word night to Edinburgh, with established voices, new talent, music, art, comedy. There is literally nothing like it in Edinburgh and I think it’s great that they’re challenging the formula.
  • Interrobang is not afraid to take risks, they put on an eclectic mix of the brilliant, the strange, and the unique. It’s a fun night with a charismatic pair of hosts.

That’s What She Said – For Books’ Sake

So excited to be nominated – That’s What She Said is a really important night and we love championing women’s writing -Jane Bradley and Paul Forster

That’s What She Said is the spoken word night ran by For Books’ Sake.  We champion women’s writing and spoken word

Why voters think they should win:

  • Overreaching. Development of community. Supporting female writers and performers.
  • Brilliantly organised event promoting female writers
  • Diverse speakers, excellent locations, fantastic support from organisers on social media and at the event.
  • Consistently high standard of performance and high quality content. Fun and inclusive.

Unity Words (Wakefield)

A Firm of Poets and Word Life are thrilled to be shorlisted for ‘Best Spoken Word Night’ with our project, Unity Words. We are representing Yorkshire and the North. We’d like to thank all the fantastic poets and audiences for getting us this far. -Ralph Dartford

We started ‘Unity Words’ in 2016 as a new adventure to bring high quality spoken word artists to Wakefield, West Yorkshire. We also had the aim develop and mentor poets new to the scene through performance workshops. Since then we have had the likes of Buddy Wakefield, Hollie McNish, Selena Godden, Luke Wright, David J and many others gracing our stage. Our  mentoring scheme has produced new and exciting artists such as Victoria Garbutt, Steve Williams and Hannah Batley. Unity Words is a wild and raucous night out. A poetry party like no other.  Join us!

Why voters think they should win:

  • Vibrant & engaging atmosphere, ambitious programming, & putting the world’s best alongside complete newcomers. Friendly but fiercely politically-charged. Everything that a spoken word night should be.
  • Unity Words is at the forefront of a new golden era which has put the phrase, “cultural quarter” into the city’s vocabulary, entirely without irony or self-deprecation. The performers are diverse, and quite a few of them have been on TV and radio. The atmosphere is lively and inclusive. This is not just a spoken word night: it is a community: an open and growing one, not a clique. For many people who attend, it is the first spoken word event they have ever been to.
  • It is incredibly innovative and supports up and coming poets with workshops that feed into the Spoken Word Experience. It also hosts poets from all over the UK – gets them to Yorkshire!

WORD! (Leicester)

We’re so thrilled to have been nominated for a Saboteur Award, and grateful to everyone who has contributed to our development and/or wished us well in the course of our history. Regardless of the final result, this nomination is a wonderful opportunity to talk about our work and reflect on the many years we’ve been doing it.  We find ourselves on a brilliantly inspiring shortlist – so can only hope to follow in our football team’s footsteps, be fearless and ‘do a Leicester’. If we win, we’ll ask Gary Lineker to present the next WORD! in his boxer shorts…’ -Lydia Towsey

WORD! is the longest running spoken word night in the Midlands – est. circa 2001 by Apples & Snakes, and delivered independently by a voluntary committee/organisation since 2008. The night takes place at The Y Theatre, Leicester on the first Tuesday of every month, compered by Lydia Towsey (Chair/Coordinator), Tim Sayers (Treasurer) + Pam Thompson and Richard Byrt (Secretaries). Composed of two halves of open mic + one, sometimes two booked acts, recent artists have included rising stars like Toby Campion, Shruti Chauhan and Majak Pajak, and artists including Francesca Beard, Malika Booker and WORD!s Patron, Jean Binta Breeze MBE.

Why voters think they should win:

  • I’ve been performing at Word regularly for two years. It’s a really supportive room for newcomers and the workshops from top artists such as John hegley, rosie garland, salena godden and many more have taught me a lot and helped me develop as a performer.
  • People are warmly supported and encouraged, especially if they are reading for the first time.  There’s a wide variety of poetry, reflecting diverse cultural, personal and mental health experiences.  Guest performers are nationally, sometimes internationally, known and often run poetry workshops before the main event.
  • WORD! Gives voice and expression to the inner feelings of all kinds of writers whether a beginner at the craft, or professional poets of lifelong skill. Culturally diverse, inclusive of LGBT and people of all abilities, tenderly nurturing and supporting with great ‘pizazz’ and gentle humour(where it fits) the strongly apparent talent of both the  Leicester  community and any visiting poets who dare to step up ton the mic! Wonderful! I love to read my work there when I can, and always feel appreciated and respected.