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Lottery Fund awards grant for spoken word and performance poetry archive

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The Heritage Lottery Fund has handed out a grant of £86,000 to create a “living archive” for the “often marginalised art form” of spoken word and performance poetry, including rare sound and video recordings. Spoken word and performance poetry organisation Apples and Snakes has already started work to catalogue and digitalise its extensive archive of materials collected since its formation in 1982, and will be adding new acquisitions and recorded interviews. The project will culminate in 2017 with events, an exhibition and community engagement programmes across the country that will highlight developments in spoken word over 35 years.

Using digital technology to display and catalogue over 3,000 individual items, the Living Archive will preserve and create easy public and academic access to materials that represent a significant addition to the heritage and understanding of spoken word and performance poetry as an art form in the UK.

Benjamin Zephaniah said the archive would “give old professors like me a place to send students who wish to understand the history of what they are doing”.

Robert Saunders, of Apples and Snakes, said: “As spoken word and performance poetry is finally beginning to gain a more popular foothold and a higher public profile it is the perfect time to share our archive and ensure that the rich and diverse history of the art form is recognised and celebrated.”

Stuart Hobley, head of Heritage Lottery Fund London, said: “The history of spoken word and performance poetry holds some fascinating and creative insights into politics, society and culture. Thanks to money raised by National Lottery players we’re thrilled to offer our support to this project which will involve communities, train volunteers and work with literary stars to ensure the story and legacy of this often marginalised art form is preserved for generations to enjoy.”

Apples and Snakes produces and curates live events and digital content, nurtures spoken word artists, and runs  projects and programmes involving schools, libraries, prisons, hospitals and other settings, with a focus on disenfranchised voices, marginalised communities and those at risk.


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Al Barz

Wed 2nd Dec 2015 00:22

So much wonderful performance poetry can be found in hundreds of events across the country, as can be observed by the WriteOutLoud Gig Guide, which is by no means definitive.
Although the tens of thousands seems a gift horse not to look in the mouth and eschew, it is a shame to award so much to one organisation to the exclusion of all others and their adherents.
London's The Poetry Library has an extensive archive and other libraries up and down the country, including many universities also house such material, and let us not forget the many scores of small press poetry magazines, ezines, pamphlets, etc..
This is a job for Superfan... poetry-wise.

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