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Performance poetry – Bath Spa University

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

Performance Poetry and Spoken Word began at Bath Spa University in 2003, when Professor Lucy English organised the International Conference in the Practice of Performance Poetry, held at Newton Park.

In 2004 Lucy created the first module in Performance Poetry and Spoken Word to be validated at a British University. This module is still offered as an option for second year undergraduate Creative Writing students. 

Studying performance poetry

Students exploring performance poetry at Bath Spa University examine historic and contemporary influences on current spoken word practitioners, and create and perform their own poetry.

They’re also encouraged to experience live poetry. Bristol and Bath have a range of lively spoken word events that students attend and analyse. Taking this experience into their final year modules, they develop portfolios of spoken word poetry, their own recordings, and professional publicity material.

Lyra Poetry Festival

The University is one of the partners of the Lyra Bristol Poetry Festival, which is run by Lucy English and a former student. The festival showcases a range of established and emerging talent, including Bath Spa students, who perform, organise and volunteer at the festival.

Featured graduate

Kathryn O’Driscoll (pictured) is a spoken word poet and activist whose poetry explores disabilities, mental health and LGBT+ issues.

She is a UK slam champion and World Slam Finalist (2021). She was longlisted for the Outspoken Prize for Performance Poetry and the Saboteur Award for Best Spoken Word Artist in 2022. She was featured on Sky’s Life and Rhymes in 2021. Kathryn’s first collection, Cliff Notes, was published by Verve in 2021.

Photo by Jorbein Photography at Spork! Poetry at Exeter Phoenix on 25 October 2022.

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