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Poetry and Prose

In the Black Swann


The Spoken Word Open Mic. runs on the first Tuesday of every month. Open mic supporters are involved in a range of events organised in conjunction with, or with the assistance of, The Spoken Word hosts.

For further information about any of our events please Email yorkspokenword@yahoo.co.uk

Open Mic  Workshops  Rose & Alan Feature
International Women’s Week  Book Launches
Themed Events Poetry Slam 50+Festival

The Spoken Word - Open Mic.

The First Tuesday of every month at the conservatory at the Exhibition Hotel in Bootham. we start at 7.30 pm: the next few scheduled dates are:


York Literature Festival 2018


Poetry for All

York Literature Festival in partnership with Wilberforce Trust brings first-ever BSL Poetry event to York

Performances signed, poems projected onto screen for Visually Impaired readers
Service dogs and carers welcome

Unique and Inclusive event 7.00pm on Saturday 24 March at St Clements Hall

Sat Mar 24th 7pm for 7.30  - St Clements Hall, York, YO23 1BW, UK  Accessible Poetry YLF Saturday 24March 7pm main image only

New this year, we’re offering poetry for everyone: BSL interpreter, big screen projection of poems submitted in advance, service animals & carers welcome!
 Featured poets: Raymond Antrobus, Donna Williams (DeafFirefly), and York’s own Imogen Godwin. Hosted by Fay Roberts & Rose Drew.
 Contact 07914271871 for info about getting your poem onto the screen, and to book a 3 min slot. LIMITED slots. We'll be strict on 3 mins! One slam poem or two shorter ones. Time yourself. Rosey will time you.....

 Dave Wycherley is our BSL interpreter.

 Fully accessible venue. Bar available for Dutch Courage. St Clements Hall, York, Saturday 24 March, 7pm for 7.30 start. 7conc / 10.

 Donna Williams is a deaf poet who uses English and British Sign Language, and has a deep interest in translation and how her work can be made accessible to all audiences. She has performed widely in the UK including Edinburgh Fringe and Albert Hall, and in America and Brazil. Recent publications: Stairs and Whispers, an anthology of poems by deaf and disabled poets, and issue 69 of Magma Poetry magazine. Her poems cover bilingualism to identity, to her beloved cats.

 Raymond Antrobus is a poet, performer and hearing aid user, born and bred in East London, Hackney. Raymond has read and performed internationally, at festivals, universities, and on BBC Radio 4, and he’s published in The Rialto, Magma Poetry and The Guardian among others. “His monologues are stunning studies of voice and substance, and his lyric poems are graceful and finely crafted” - Kwame Dawes

 Imogen Godwin is relatively new to York’s poetic scene but she’s jumped right in, appearing at open mics, competing in slams, and featuring in York Disability Pride 2017, which is about being loud, proud, and out there when it comes to disability, impairment and health conditions: and is for everyone. As Imogen says, “Disability Pride actively challenges our idea of ‘normal’ and celebrates the exciting diversity of human body and mind.”

 Fay Roberts is Spoken Word Artistic Director at the Free Fringe, regional coordinator at Hammer & Tongue Cambridge, and founded (and still edits) Allographic Press: poetry, prose, art, music available online and in print publications. Fay hosts Other Voices Spoken Word Cabarets: shows dedicated to the words and voices less heard. Fay is secretly a nerd IT specialist but please forgive her.

 Rose Drew is a poet and anthropologist: at home in a lab, and on a stage performing poetry. She’s a public speaker, book publisher, events manager, and has co-hosted the York Spoken Word Poetry & Prose open mic since January 2006. Rose is delighted to fulfill this goal of offering poetry by all, for all, here in York.


 Sessions for Crafting Your Poem, AfterCraft and Approaching Your Poem can be scheduled at any time if there is sufficient demand. Places are 10 per session. Contact Alan on argillott@gmail.com or 01904 733767 to book a place; for Performing Your Poem, contact Rose on rose@stairwellbooks.com or 01904 733767.

Rose and Alan Features

   Rebellious Women

URC Skinner Street Poole Dorset


Joy Gharoro-Akpojotor; film producer and script writer. Joy has worked on a variety projects from feature films, shorts, plays and music videos. Her second feature film premiered at the BFI London Film Festival, 2016, and was nominated for the IWC Filmmaker Award. She currently runs Joi Productions, her work covers a wide variety of topics addressing social issues.

 -Rose Drew; award winning performance poet. Rose will be joining us for the afternoon to share some of her writings with us. She lives in York where she co-owns Stairwell Books a small press publisher and co-hosts York Spoken Word a monthly open mic event.

 -The wonderful Rebellious Women scratch choir will open the event

 -Open mic; we shall have time for some open mic slots 3 mins each. Let me know if you would like to do a turn.

 Tea, coffee and cakes will be served in the interval.

 Suggested donation of 5 per person on entrance to help toward the costs.

Book Launches


Theme Nights

From time to time we put on special theme nights, just for fun, or to support a new book or venture. Our erotic poetry nights have been very popular; and the Railway Theme night launched Stairwell Books’ Along the Iron Veins Anthology of Poetry and Prose and similarly a Spoooken Word Ghosts and Ghoulies theme night supported the launch of Pressed by Unseen Feet took place at the York Hotel du Vin at the August Blue Moon.. Every year, the March Open Mic. celebrates International Women’s Day.

 Erotic Poetry Night

We have now run two Erotic Poetry theme nights, one during the 2010 York Literature Festival and one for the First Malton Literature Festival. Both were resounding successes. We are very happy to arrange another event: please contact us for more information.

 York Poetry Slam York Poetry Slam

Yes, Slam Poetry has come to York! This historic event took place at the City Screen Basement Bar. With guest judge Ash Dickenson ably assisted by Jem Henderson, Alan Gillott and Andy Humphrey. The 2011 Slam was won by Tim Ellis by the tiniest of hairs. We look forward to next year’s repeat event.

The York Poetry Slam is organized jointly by The Spoken Word, Speaker’s Corner and Poems, Prose and Pints



 International Women’s WeekYIWF logo cropped

This York festival is organised annually by a group of concerned York women to span the internationally recognised International Women’s Day. Established in 1911, the day celebrates the achievements of Women throughout the world. Every year, in support of this effort, Spoken Word participants take part in, or put on, events to support the York International Women’s Week. We also dedicate our March Open Mic atLooking for Githa, Githa Sowerby, Patricia RileyNew Writing North the Exhibition Hotel to this festival.

2011 was the Hundredth anniversary of International Women’s Day, the first of which was celebrated on the 19th March, 1911. Within a week, on the 25th March, in New York City’s Triangle Shirtwaist Fire, more than 140 women, working in sweat shop conditions, were burned to death. These were two key events in women’s struggle for equality and dignity.

In 2011 Patricia Riley, the author of the seminal Looking for Githa, gave two illustrated talks, Against All Tradition, about the playwright Githa Sowerby, hailed in 1912 as the ‘Talent to compare with Ibsen’ by West End critics, completely unaware that KG Sowerby was a woman. Copies of Looking for Githa are available from the New Writing North bookshop.

On 13th of March 2014 we hosted Hollie McNish at the City Screen Basement Bar as one of a series of Nationally acclaimed poets brought to York in 2014.

2013_09_16_HOLLY  444 CroppedHollie, who was supported by local poets and musicians, demonstrated why she won the 2009 UK Poetry Slam and was third in the world at the Poetry Slam finals held in Paris. She is described as MTVs chick of the week, and an Internet Sensation by Best Daily, has performed at Glastonbury, The Albert Hall and has been widely featured on mainstream radio and television including Radio 4, Channel  4, MTV and BBC 2.                Hollie McNish         

In 2015 we hosted Jackie Hagen with her show Some Poeple have too many legs. In 2013, after a mystery illness, Jackie lost her leg. This darkly humorous show is about falling in love in awkward circumstances; how, sometimes, loss is not always completely bad; and how to be optimistic and glittery without disposing of your wit or intellect. Jackie was supported by The Kate Peters Duo & guest poets!

50 + Festival

   An Evening of Poetry and Prose

The Spoken Word sponsors an evening of Poetry and prose to celebrate growing older. This event is open to all of any age. Readers under 50 are asked to focus on older mentors, teachers, parents and grandparents. If you are interested in next year’s programme please contact Rose on rose@stairwellbooks.com.

The event  takes place at All Saints Pavement near Coppergate. Entry is free but a donation of 2 is requested toward the cost of Wine and Cheese, or indeed, a donation of wine and cheese.

Guest Poetry Series


    HollieMcNish                          March (International Women’s Week)
    David Lee Morgan
    Richard Tyrone Jones          Tour de France Grand Depart