Touring to five venues this Spring, Poetry Pioneers: 35 Years is a retrospective of Spoken Word, charting the history of UK spoken word over four decades and opening up the Apples and Snakes archive in its birthday year.

“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.

Featuring guest curators including John Hegley, Benjamin Zephaniah, Inua Ellams, Roger McGough, Hollie McNish and Cerys Matthews who select exhibits with personal resonance, and pick artists that have influenced their work. Poetry Pioneers showcases memorable performances to inspire the poetry of the future.

In an exhibition that tours to Apples and Snakes’ five regions across the country, the exhibition offers a chance to relive moments from four decades of the artform, through promotional material, audio and video performances, and interviews with some of the scenes most influential artists.

Poetry Pioneers: 35 Years is the touring part of the Spoken Word Archive project, a major project to create an archive of Spoken Word performance and part of Apples and Snakes’ 35th year celebrations. As the leading organisation for performance poetry in the country Apples and Snakes has a national reputation for producing exciting, engaging and transformative work in performance and participation.

Lisa Mead, Artistic Director and joint CEO of Apples and Snakes says

“We’re excited to have the opportunity to open up the Apples and Snakes archive and share some of the memories that illustrate the important social and political moments as well as the amazing range of artists that we have supported over the years. We’re delighted that Heritage Lottery Funding has enabled us not only to create this amazing online resource, but also to tour this exciting exhibition to our regional hubs across the country.”

This project is funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, and made possible by money raised by National Lottery players.

Exhibition dates, more to be announced:

ARC Theatre – Opening Monday 15 January, Closing Tuesday 13 February
Birmingham Library – Opening Thursday 15 February, closing Saturday 10 March
NST City, Southampton – Opening Saturday 17 March, closing Thursday 12 April
Ocean Studios, Plymouth – Opening Tuesday 17 April, closing Sunday 29 April
Rich Mix – Opening Thursday 3 May, closing Thursday 31 May