The listings are primarily maintained and updated by Matt Martin, Stuart Hall Research Scholar and PhD student in the Contemporary Poetry Research Centre (CPRC) at Birkbeck.
Haven’t I seen the page elsewhere?
Innovative Poetry Readings in London was initiated by the poet Peter Philpott in 2009 as part of his website, modernpoetry.org.uk. He continued to run the listings as a service to London’s poetry communities until August 2018, when he handed it on to the CPRC with his blessing. The rest of his site remains available and is of great interest.
What about the rest of the UK?
These listings cover events taking place within Greater London (i.e., the 32 London boroughs plus the City of London), reflecting Birkbeck’s remit as part of the University of London. Exciting things do happen elsewhere in the UK, though. These ongoing reading series often host innovative poets (note that many series are not active during the current pandemic):
Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with details of any readings or other events. Email us if you spot any errors too, please. You can also contact us viaFacebook. Bear in mind:
The listings may not be updated every day. To ensure that your event is posted in time to spread the word, please send information at least a week beforehand. The further in advance, the more useful the listing will be for you.
These listings concern performances (and some related activities) within the traditions or communities of innovative poetry – those that the CPRC exists to further. The listings aim to be inclusive, incorporating cross-cultural and internationalist currents, and extending to celebrations of modernist precursors, but there are limits to what will be publicised here.
Can you publish my poetry, or get me a slot to perform at one of these events?
No, sorry. We recommend:
Exploring the websites of publishers, journals, and other organisers of the events listed here, and seeing whether they are open to submissions. Peter Philpott has curated lists of such websites at modernpoetry.org.uk.
Looking for events billed as including an ‘open mic’. The organisers of these will generally welcome offers to perform appropriate work, and their websites will tell you how to sign up.
Organising your own event – this is increasingly easy with the rise of online resources such as videoconferencing. We will happily promote London-based events featuring innovative poetry.
What do you mean by ‘innovative poetry’?
Broadly speaking, poetry that challenges the traditionally accepted definitions of the art form – work which might also be dubbed ‘experimental’, ‘avant-garde’, ‘modernist’, ‘postmodernist’, ‘neo-modernist’, etc. Such poetry diverges from the conservative norm in many different directions, and these scenes are constantly developing. Recent years have seen more acceptance of innovative poetry by universities, major publishers, literary prize-givers and other institutions. However, this remains sporadic, and much exciting activity is still down to groups of friends who organise and publish with scant resources. In the last couple of decades, the field has been enriched by increasing overlaps and intersections between different innovative poetry communities. At the same time, women, non-binary, LGBTQI+, Black British and British Asian poets, as well as UK-based poets born overseas, have all become more prominent.
Can you guarantee that these events will be good?
We hope they will be, but the CPRC cannot take responsibility for the quality of events organised by other parties, the reliability of information made available by to us by others, or any views expressed by organisers, performers and exhibitors. However, every event here is listed because it promises something of interest to those wishing to explore new possibilities for poetry. Descriptions in the listings are based on publicity material.