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Apples & Snakes present

Poetry Pioneers: 35 Years, A Retrospective of Spoken Word Exhibition

Until Thursday 31 May
Mezzanine Gallery

In a nutshell

The exhibition opens up the archive of Apples and Snakes, charting the history of UK spoken word over four decades.

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"I think it’s the duty of everyone to be a political activist, but poets and musicians have a special role to play in mankind’s conversations.”  Benjamin Zephaniah (2017) on Artists for Palestine and Apples and Snakes 1990.

As part of its 35th year celebrations Apples and Snakes explores its pivotal role in the development of the performance poetry scene in the UK. 

Apples and Snakes emerged against a backdrop of austerity, social unrest and upheaval in early 1980s Britain.  It grew from its radical beginnings in ‘poetry cabaret’ and posting poets on picket lines, to an organisation known for producing fresh cross-artform pieces stretching the boundaries of spoken word and popularising the one-person poetry show format in Britain.

Guest curators, including John Hegley, Benjamin Zephaniah, Inua Ellams, Roger McGough and Cerys Matthews, select archive exhibits with personal resonance, highlighting artists that have influenced their work.  Combining testimony with images of artefacts, Poetry Pioneers: 35 Years shines a spotlight on poetry’s most innovative spaces, where self-expression, artistic experimentation, and political protest intersect.   

Memorable performances captured on video and in audio showcase a varied and fascinating past whilst envisaging and inspiring the poetry of the future.

Who's Involved

Apples and Snakes is the country’s leading organisation for performance poetry and has a national reputation for producing exciting, engaging and transformative work in performance and participation.

Poetry Pioneers: 35 Years is grant funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund.  The event has been made possible by money raised by National Lottery players: 

Why does Rich Mix matter?

'Rich Mix is an organisation that we’ve partnered with many times over the past decade.  We’ve had some fantastic events here, and have some wonderful memories.  We’re really pleased that Rich Mix is involved in our 35th anniversary celebrations'

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Things you should know

This event is wheelchair accessible.