5 Emerging British Performance Poets You Need To Know About

Move over Shakespeare, poetry is making a modern-day comeback with a roster of IT-Brit poets who know how to pack a political punch.


Move over Shakespeare, poetry is making a modern-day comeback with a roster of IT-Brit poets who know how to pack a political punch.

Writers like Kate Tempest (her album Everybody Down is out now) and Brit Award nominee George The Poet are taking the music industry by storm, while Holly McNish recently made headlines for her fem-tastic verse on breastfeeding in public. 

And for one-night only on 28th January, London's Southbank Centre will be celebrating the field's rising stars. Let's meet the contenders…

If Caitlin Moran Was A Performance Poet…

We say: From hip-hop style campaign poetry (watch No More Page 3) to multi-character performances, Sabrina Mahfouz’s work is often informed by her own experiences. A one-woman show, she wrote and performed in 2011's ‘Dry Ice’ (a play about a Mancunian stripper living with a half-art dealer / half-cocaine dealer) which she based on 5 years working as a waitress in various strip clubs.

She says: 'I want the artistic world to see that performance poetry and poets can be engaged with in the same way other writers are.'

The Political Pioneer…

We say: Kudos to poet-on-tour Hollie McNish for slamming critics of breastfeeding in public with her pulverizing poem ‘Embarrassed’. Free the nipple!

She says:‘Don't think what you write is wrong or rubbish. I think everyone has a story to tell and everyone's thoughts are relevant.’

The Funny Guy…

We say: This ‘stand-up poet' (and sometime illustrator) loves a one-liner. In 2013 30-year old Rob Auton, from York, won an award for the funniest joke of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival with the mega-gag: 'I heard a rumour that Cadbury is bringing out an oriental chocolate bar. Could be a Chinese Wispa.'

He says:On winning said award, Rob said; 'I’m honoured to receive this award and just pleased that a joke that tackles the serious issue of the invention of a new chocolate bar can be laughed at by the people of Britain.'

The Soul Sister…

We say: Blend forth-wave feminism with Kate Nash style vocals and you’ve got Jemima Foxtrot - the youngest contender in the line-up. Her musical inspiration is Bob Dylan, and following suit, her own performance poetry is semi-autobiographical – musing on everything from internet dating to drug-taking.

She says: 'Music is incredibly important. I am constantly absent mindedly singing to myself which is why you find snippets of all sorts of songs (soul, folk and self-composed) woven through my poems. I think of my poetry as primarily a live experience, that's where it's best.'

The IT Crowd…

We say: Kids, don’t listen to your parents. Video games are not a waste of time -- as Ross Sutherland, poet and CGI wizard will prove. For a computer generated poetry piece he created called Hinterland, Ross collaborated with social game designers Hide and Seek to create a month-long poetry game played across the streets of Edinburgh. Cool, right?

He says: 'I prefer poetry as a form of self expression more than novels, mostly because I’m uninterested in creating fictional worlds.'

‘The Contenders’ at the Southbank Centre for one-night only is on tomorrow Wednesday 28th January at 7.45pm for tickets go to southbankcentre.co.uk

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