What a year it’s been for our ‘LIVEwire’ events. We’ve been building them up for nearly 3 years now, and I’m proper chuffed to present our class of 2019. These are all of the poets who’ve performed at one of our events this year.
It’s mad to think that we didn’t actually start until August. All of the time until that point had involved planning behind-the-scenes. We ran our ‘LIVEwire Salon’ at Byline Festival over August bank holiday; launched our biggest ever series of ‘LIVEwire’ events in Manchester in September; and also co-hosted a Día de los Muertos party in London on 1 November.
Huge thanks to everybody that performed at, attended, shared and worked at one of these events. And also to Arts Council England for co-funding the series that we launched in September. Can’t wait to see what happens in 2020…
Salena Godden is one of the UK’s foremost poets, having stormed stages worldwide for the last 25 years. Her ‘LIVEwire’ album was shortlisted for the prestigious Ted Hughes Award in 2017 and released by Nymphs & Thugs on 2LP gatefold vinyl, CD, zine and digital format. Her ‘Pessimism Is For Lightweights’ pamphlet with Rough Trade Books took the poetry world by storm last summer, and the poem was for a long time framed on the walls of Arnolfini.
Salena has also published ‘Fishing In The Aftermath (Poems 1994-2014)’ with Burning Eye Books and literary memoir ‘Springfield Road’ with Unbound, and also contributed her essay ‘Shade’ to international hit ‘The Good Immigrant’ in 2017 (Unbound). Her debut novel ‘Mrs Death Misses Death’ will be published by Canongate in 2021.
Nymphs & Thugs founder Matt Abbott is one of UK poetry’s rising stars. His debut one-man show ‘Two Little Ducks’ completed a full run at Edinburgh Fringe in 2017, before embarking on a 22-date UK theatre tour in autumn 2018. It was accompanied by his debut poetry collection of the same name (VERVE Poetry Press) and a digital studio album on N&T.
Matt’s debut kids’ poetry collection ‘A Hurricane in my Head’ was published by Bloomsbury in July. He’s recently been commissioned by organisations including Cancer Research UK, Leeds United FC, Nationwide Building Society and Jeremy Corbyn. He’s an ambassador for Eureka! The National Children’s Museum and Trinity Homeless Projects, and fronts alternative band Skint & Demoralised.
Work rooted in word-witchery and the working class, Louise Fazackerley is a poet from the exotic Northern streets of Orwell’s Wigan. In performance she explores the synergy between poetry and movement. Her socially conscious writing makes the ugly beautiful and the mundane fantastical.
Winner of the BBC Radio New voices award, Louise is signed to Nymphs & Thugs spoken word label where she released two audio books – Love Is A Battlefield and Bird St. Her new collection ‘The Lolitas’ (VERVE Poetry Press) is the subject of ‘Love Is A Rebellious Bird’ an installation and film work by international artists AL + AL. She recently supported punk poet legend Dr. John Cooper Clarke on his sold-out tour.
One of the UK’s best-loved poets, and a multi-award winning theatre maker and broadcaster. Having performed all over the world, Luke Wright constantly gigs the UK’s theatres and rock venues. His debut play ‘What I Learned From Johnny Bevan’ won a string of incredible awards, and his latest show ‘Luke Wright, Poet Laureate’ is currently on tour. His album ‘Twenty’ was released by N&T on 2LP gatefold vinyl earlier this year, to mark 20 years on stage for Luke.
Toria Garbutt is a rising star on the UK’s spoken word poetry scene. Her debut spoken word album ‘Hot Plastic Moon’ was released on Nymphs & Thugs in spring 2016 to huge acclaim, and her debut poetry collection ‘The Universe and Me’ was published by Wrecking Ball Press in 2018. Over that period, she toured the UK and Europe with Dr John Cooper Clarke.
Toria was mentioned alongside Matt in a Guardian feature on ‘the rise and rise of the new poets’ in February this year and has also featured on BBC Radio 4.
Kevin P. Gilday
Kevin P. Gilday is an award-winning writer and spoken word artist from Glasgow, Scotland. He is the curator and co-host of spoken word cabaret Sonnet Youth, a National Theatre of Scotland Breakthrough Writer and a BBC Writersroom Scottish Voice. Kevin has performed all over the world, from Hollywood to East Kilbride, including major festivals and fringes as well as large scale tours of the UK, Germany, Canada and the US.
He has published four books of poetry, with his most recent – Sad Songs for White Boys (published by Speculative Books) – bringing together nearly ten years of work. His debut album under the guise of Kevin P. Gilday & The Glasgow Cross, Experience Essential, was released in 2018 on Iffy Folk Records (Glasgow) and Nymphs & Thugs Records (London). His show Suffering from Scottishness played to critical acclaim at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe.
Joelle Taylor is an award-winning poet, playwright, author and editor who has recently completed a world tour with her latest collection ‘Songs My Enemy Taught Me’. She is widely anthologised, the author of 3 full poetry collections and 3 plays and is currently completing her début book of short stories ‘The Night Alphabet’.
Joelle will be the editor of Out-Spoken Press from September 2020 – September 2021, commissioning five new titles with a focus on women’s writing.
Zena Edwards is known as one of London’s most unique voices in performance poetry. She uses song, traditional African instrumentation, and call and response in her live performance. Her writing focuses on social and environmental issues—race, power, human frailty and resilience. Her company Verse In Dialog champions the arts as servant to community and as a tool for radical change.
Jess Green is a performance poet and script writer. She has performed at Glastonbury, Latitude and Bestival and written two shows (both published by Burning Eye Books), Burning Books (2015) and A Self Help Guide To Being In Love With Jeremy Corbyn (2018) which received 5* at the Edinburgh Fringe and on their national tours. The stage adaption of Burning Books toured in 2018 including a performance at NUT National Conference. She is the 2018 BBC Slam Champion and part of BBC Writers Academy 2019. A Self Help Guide tours the UK throughout 2019.
Nafeesa Hamid is a British-Pakistani poet and playwright based in Birmingham. Her work covers taboo themes such as sex, domestic violence and mental health, using personal experience as a basis for her writing. Her debut collection ‘Besharam’ was published by VERVE poetry press in 2018.
Maria Ferguson is a multi award-winning theatre maker and poet from Romford, Essex. Her debut one-woman show ‘Fat Girls Don’t Dance’ won Best Spoken Word Show at the Saboteur Awards in 2017 and is published by Oberon Books. Her follow-up ‘Essex Girl’ was shortlisted for Soho Theatre’s prestigious Tony Craze Award in 2018 and won Show Of The Week at VAULT Festival 2019. It’s also published by Oberon Books.
Maria’s debut poetry collection ‘Alright, Girl?’ is being published by Burning Eye Books in March. Her commissions include BBC Radio 1, the Royal Academy of Art and Apples & Snakes.
Oakley is a writer and performer originally from the West Midlands. They’ve received playwright development from Birmingham REP and gained a place on Royal Court’s playwrights programme. Oakley has performed nationwide, has been published by #Queer in the US and has a forthcoming collection ‘The Rainbow as a Bleeding Sky’ on VERVE Poetry Press.
A writer and performer from Glasgow, Michelle Fisher was a resident artist at Roundhouse from 2017-18 and has been commissioned by the likes of BBC and Huffington Post. Her work explores wider societal issues, including class and poverty, and how they impact on our daily lives.
The Repeat Beat Poet
A broadcaster and hip hop poet, The Repeat Beat Poet fuses traditional poetics with hip hop culture to capture and extend moments of time, thought, and feeling. He produces and hosts monthly poetry events Boomerang and Pen-Ting and his radio show #TheRepeatBeatBroadcast, and is a house emcee with hip hop label Imaginary Millions.
A Scottish Pakistani poet living in London, Sunnah writes poems of belonging and displacement. When she’s not producing documentaries, she’s either standing on her head or performing with her poetry collective 4 BROWN GIRLS WHO WRITE.
In 2018 as a tribute to his recently deceased father, Oli Spleen recorded his second solo album ‘Gaslight Illuminations’. It was also inspired by the emotional fallout of a toxic relationship. It’s been described as “a gloriously dark and haunting work” and “a mesmerising work from an artist who has embraced his maturity”.
Courttia Newland was born in West London where he still lives and which inspires much of his writing. He is the author of three acclaimed novels from Abacus: ‘The Scholar’, ‘Society Within’ and ‘Snakeskin’. His short stories have appeared in several anthologies. He is also the co-editor of ‘IC3: The Penguin Book of New Black Writing in Britain’.
Newland has, with his band of actors and an experienced director, cut his teeth in the world of theatre with his company, The Post Office Theatre Co. Courttia was recently profiled by a Channel Four documentary. He was Fellow at the London College of Communication until December 2004 and works with selected Further Education partners in west London.
Bradford-born wordsmith Kirsty Taylor never ceases to amaze audiences with her unique and engaging style. A favourite at N&T #LIVEwire events, she too was commissioned by BBC Radio 3’s ‘New Voices’ project last year. A poet, a playwright and an electric entertainer.
A London-based poet, and part of the exciting and much spoken about collective 4 Brown Girls Who Write. Sheena’s writing is a surrealist interweaving of sex and myth, and she can be a little bit rude sometimes.
Connor Byrne is a poet and performer from Brighton, now living in London. Their work explores gender and the relationships we have with others and the world. They have performed nationally and internationally, at festivals, competed in slams and self published two pamphlets.
Ollie O’Neill is a London based poet and writer. She is a former UK Youth Slam Champion, and current Barbican Young Poet. In March 2019, her debut pamphlet ‘Ways of Coping’ was published by Out-Spoken Press. Her work explores themes of female sexuality, desire, and psychiatry.
She has previously read in venues such as The Institute of Contemporary Arts, Soho Theatre, Royal Festival Hall, and The 100 Club, as well as at Cheltenham Literature Festival, The Verve Poetry Festival, and Wilderness Festival.
Rachel Rose Reid
Rachel Rose Reid is the first European woman to be ordained by the Kohenet Hebrew Priestess Institute, which reclaims and renews Jewish earth-based, embodied spiritual practices, and feminine narratives and leadership.
As co-creator of Yelala, she facilitates ritual and devotional song in Jewish and multi-faith settings. Rachel is a storyteller, and has written and performed for Billy Bragg, BBC Radio 3, and the London Symphony Orchestra, and is part of land rights performance collective Three Acres and a Cow.
Logan & Manley
Hailing from the creative northern town of Hebden Bridge, Logan & Manley are full of irie beats, soulful vibes and lyrics that have a message for us all. Live, they loop a sonic landscape of dynamic vocals, keys, guitars and electric drums creating a space for everyone to get lost in the magic of their music. Expect to feel the love from the tips of your toes to the top of your head.
Saili Katebe is a Zambian born writer and performer based in the South West. Often writing under the pen name “The Blissful Nomad“, he uses poetry and theatre to exercise his curiosity and perfect the art of recklessness, challenging his language and its hidden music.