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Performance poetry began at Bath Spa University in 2003. Lucy English organised the International Conference in the Practice of Performance Poetry, held at Newton Park. This was one of the first attempts to bring together artists and academic theorists in performance poetry, experimental poetry and hybrid art forms.

Departments heads in Creative Writing saw the potential to incorporate performance poetry into the university curriculum. This lead Lucy English to create the first module in Performance Poetry to be validated at a British University in 2004, then offered to second year undergraduate students.

The module examines some of the historic and contemporary influences on current spoken word practitioners, and the students create and perform their own poetry. In the first two years of the module’s deployment, students listened to recordings of performance poets on CD’s. But a key aspect of the module was to encourage students to attend live poetry events. Bristol and Bath had, and still have, lively spoken word events that students attend and analyse. As classroom technology developed, screenings of performance poetry from the UK and worldwide became a feature of the lessons. Students take this kindled interest into their third year project modules and start to develop portfolios of spoken word poetry, their own recordings, and professional publicity material.

Now, Bath Spa University has a strong record of creating professional performance poets. Many of our former students now feature on the UK touring and festival circuit and have set up their own live poetry events and venues.

  • Anna Freeman
    A favourite on the festival scene. She runs a monthly spoken word night at the Bristol Old Vic. Her first novel, The Fair Fight, was published in 2014 by W and N in the UK, and in 2015 by Riverhead in America and Canada. Anna also teaches creative writing at Bath Spa University.
  • Jack Dean
    A rap storyteller. His acclaimed theatre length shows tour the UK and the US. His poetry is published by Burning Eye.
  • Rebecca Tantony 
    Runs Hammer and Tongue, a year round programme of poetry slams with touring guest artists, in Bristol. She is an educator and multi-media artist. Her first collection was published by Burning Eye in 2015.
  • Laurie Bolger 
    Runs a spoken word show on Roundhouse Radio in London. She was poet in Residence for Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and has recently taken her work to the Edinburgh Fringe.
  • Kyan Mansley
    A comedy writer and director. He creates films for his own Youtube channel.
  • Billie Stubley, Nick Compton, Sam Neal and Chloe Douglas
    Run Rhyme and Reason, Bath’s leading spoken word night for students.
  • Lucy English
    Reader in Creative Writing at Bath Spa and the Performance Poetry Module Tutor, continues to develop her practice. Her latest show Count Me In, with the South West Collective, toured to 18 venues in the UK in 2014-5. She is currently creating poetry films for a PhD project.

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