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Comics and Cosplay: Sidekick hits the Free Verse Poetry Book Fair!

It’s that time again! On Saturday 26th September, the Free Verse Poetry Book Fair rolls into town! (Conway Hall, to be precise.)

Organised by poets Chrissy Williams and Joey Connolly, the event is not so much a book fair as a raucous celebration of poetry in all its guises. In Williams and Connolly’s words:

Free Verse is an all-day bazaar, market, library, meeting place, performance venue, information resource and more. Celebrating the vitality of contemporary poetry in the UK, publishers both large and small, both experimental and traditional, display and sell their work direct to the public.

We’ll be there with a whole raft of new goodies and we’ll also be judging a world first:

A Poetry Cosplay Parade!

Gah. There’s always, like, fifty Geoffrey Hills.

Yes! Come as a poet or a poem, or something tangentially related that requires a detailed explanation but that makes you feel ALIVE. The winner will receive eternal glory and £100 in poetry books!

Most importantly, come and say hi. We’ll be hopped up on coffee and very friendly, and sharing a table with the magnificent Happenstance.

RUN: A Battle Royale Memorial

I’m very excited to announce the scratch for my first live poetry show, RUN: A Battle Royale Memorial!

Thanks to a grant from the Poetry School’s Lo & Behold Fund, I’ve been able to complete writing for the piece, engage the fantastic Tamar Saphra as a director, and book a venue to try out the show.

(7.30pm, 23rd June 2015 at the Betsey Trotwood in Farringdon, since you asked. Seats for the scratch are very limited, so RSVP to if you’d like to come.)

Hang on. What is Battle Royale, and what does poetry have to do with it?

Way before The Hunger Games, Japanese author Koushun Takami wrote a novel in which schoolchildren were sent to an island by a totalitarian state, randomly assigned weapons and given three days to kill until only one stood standing.

Almost certainly influenced by Lord of the FliesBattle Royale was a controversial hit, and spawned a manga comic, as well as an acclaimed 2000 movie, directed by Kinji Fukasaku.

Now the tale has met page, art and celluloid, I want to introduce it to poetry. Run: A Battle Royale Memorial is my attempt to romp across genre and take both the movie and poetry to new audiences, through a fragmented, semi-interactive experience.

It will be red, black and dark as a moonless night. Also there will, in the spirit of the game, be party bags. PARTY BAGS.

Also performing new work on the night will be performance artist Rebecca Wigmore. More about her piece here.

More information about the scratch can be found at the dedicated site for the show. To read around the process and the movie itself, visit

Three London Arts Nights Every Poet Should Know About

Whilst you’ve probably heard of, or been to, regular nights like Jawdance, Poejazzi, Utter! and Bang Said The Gun, all of which have built up a dedicated audience and a name for themselves, there are a great many distinctive lesser-known events off the beaten track. Here are three of my favourite hybrids, what makes them different and who might enjoy them.

1. Bingo Master’s Breakout

What be this?

One of the most joyfully anarchic and welcoming poetry nights in the capital, this merry stew of poetry, karaoke and bingo (yes, you heard right) is run by Kevin Reinhardt of the Vintage Poison collective. This evening has been running for years, but its existence is still a surprise to many people.

What makes it special?

Sheer variety, for starters. A typical night consists mainly of floor spots in which each performer goes up to read a poem of their own or one from a pile brought by the organisers, followed by a karaoke song of their choice. In between these spots, BMB presents a featured poet doing a longer set, who then goes on to call the numbers for a cash prize bingo game which everyone is free to play, and a band performing a karaoke set of their own songs, complete with inflatable guitars. Plus, the one-poem-one-song cap means you’re never stuck listening to an interminable mic-limpet.

Who might enjoy this?

Anyone who likes their readings a little less formal, a little less on the slam side and a lot more participatory. And of course anyone who enjoys karaoke.



Where can I find out more?

Follow BMB on Twitter or check out their Facebook page.

2. Open Arts Cafe

What be this?

Run by the charismatic singer-songwriter Maya Levy, Open Arts Cafe is a variety extravaganza, showcasing new work from upcoming artists. Each show is themed (past themes have included Smoke & Mirrors, Seafaring and I Gave My Love A Cherry) and submissions to perform take their cue from this.

What makes it special?

Well for starters, it’s in a synagogue. For my fellow gentiles, it’s not often the opportunity really arises to go explore a synagogue, and practically, it makes for outstanding acoustics. But aside from the brilliant venue, the quality of acts is always outstanding. I guarantee that even grizzled veterans of London entertainment will discover something new here. Past performances have included poetry, acrobatics, stand-up, film screenings, live theatre and an improvised jazz board game with full audience participation. There’s also an art exhibition to look round during the interval, as well as snacks and drinks.

Who might enjoy this?

Anyone who likes their poetry set like a gorgeous stone in a big old crown of other artforms; anyone who wants to discover new acts; anyone who wants to be thoroughly entertained.


Pay what you can (£6 suggested donation, which goes to the artists). Snacks are free, wine’s £3.

Where can I find out more?

Open Arts Cafe website
Facebook page

3. Scaledown

What be this?

As the name suggests, Scaledown is a night of micro-sets, hosted by Mark Braby, Shaun Hendry and poet Jude Cowan Montague.

What makes it special?

A jamboree of poetry, monologue, music and performance art, the last Scaledown I played, I was performing alongside a sound artist collaging a soundscape from language learning tapes, an incredible experimental violinist, gorgeous folk music, a costumed band straight out of a Frank Zappa daydream and the hosts kicking off with an acapella song. Special enough?

Who might enjoy this?

Anyone who (not unreasonably) dreads a poetry set going over 15 minutes. With its quickfire lineup, Scaledown flat-out refuses to let you get bored.


Free, but do, as they say, check out the Table of Wares and support the artists if the fancy takes you.

Where can I find out more?

Scaledown website

Birdbook Launch, 17 December!

It’s on! Birdbook II: Freshwater Habitats will officially take flight at 7.30pm on Monday 17 December at Paper Dress Boutique and Bar, Shoreditch!

We’ll be having short readings from a flock of the poets involved in the project, along with projections of the beautiful artwork representing each of these incredible freshwater birds. We’re looking forward to meeting the talented writers and artists who have made this book such a treat to produce.

Nearest tubes are Shoreditch High St (Overground)Liverpool Street and Old Street, and stacks of buses go to the area.

Ah yes, and the Facebook event is here!

We’d love to say hello, so if you’re in London at that time, come on down and have a flutter!


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