Innovative Poetry Readings in London

The Contemporary Poetics Research Centre at Birkbeck is pleased to host this regularly updated listing of forthcoming events on London’s innovative poetry scenes. See the FAQ at the bottom of the page for contact details and more.

Ongoing Exhibitions and Shows

Exhibition venues may have additional closures during the Christmas and New Year period. Please check before travelling.
Mon-Sat 8.30am-8.30pm until Sat 21 September, then Mon-Sat 8.30am-1pm until Sat 14 December. Eternal Graffiti: British and American Avant-Garde Poetry: Exhibition charting the development of experimental poetry during the 20th century in the USA and UK. Includes publications and correspondence by Ezra Pound, TS Eliot, HD, Allen Ginsberg, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, William S Burroughs, Michael McClure, Gary Snyder and Amiri Baraka. Weston Room, Maugham Library, King’s College London, Chancery Lane, Holborn WC2A 1LR. Free, but you must bring ID to access the library – details here.
Wed-Sat 12pm-6pm until Fri 20 December. Tomaso Binga: A Silenced Victory: Exhibition by artist and visual poet Tomaso Binga. Mimosa House, 12 Princes Street, Mayfair W1B 2LL. Free.
Mon-Fri 10am-6pm, Sat 11am-6pm until Fri 21 December. My Life in Flux: Exhibition of works by Fluxus artists and writers, including George Brecht, Henri Chopin, Robert Filliou, John Giorno, Eugen Gomringer, Dick Higgins, Alison Knowles, George Maciunas, Jackson Mac Low, Yoko Ono, Gerhard Rühm, Carolee Schneemann and Emmett Williams. Cardi Gallery, 22 Grafton Street, Mayfair W1S 4EX. Free.
10am-6pm daily until Sun 5 January. At the Corner of a Dream: Exhibition documenting Bahia Shebab’s street art murals based on the poetry of Mahmoud Darwish. Aga Khan Centre, 10 Handyside Street, Kings Cross N1C 4DN. Exhibition free.
Fri 4 Oct 10am-6pm, Sun-Tue 10am-6pm, Wed-Sat 10am-8pm until Sun 19 January. Into the Night: Cabarets & Clubs in Modern Art: Exhibition on the role of cabarets and clubs as venues for modernist art and literature. Each Thu, Fri & Sat night from 7pm, the exhibition hosts experimental music and performance recreating evenings at poet and architect Theo van Doesburg’s nightclub L’Aubette. Barbican Centre, Silk Street, City of London EC2Y 8DS. Mon-Fri £15/£11, Sat-Sun £17/£12. Book now.
Performances Thu 28 November – Sun 1 December, Fri 13 December and Wed 22- Sun 26 January, 7pm each night. Exhibition Thu-Sun 12pm-6pm until Sun 26 January. The Farmyard is not a Violent Place and I Look Exactly like Judy Garland: Performances of a play by poet-artist Caspar Heinemann and artist Alex Margot Arden. The stage set will also be accessible as an exhibition. Cell Project Space, 258 Cambridge Heath Road, Bethnal Green E2 9DA. Exhibition free. Performance £4.76 – book now.
Tue-Wed and Fri-Sun 11am-6pm, Thu 11am-9pm until Sun 2 February. Sense Sound/Sound Sense: Exhibition of scores and records by Fluxus writers, artists and composers, including John Cage, Philip Corner, Dick Higgins, Alison Knowles, George Maciunas, Claes Oldenburg and Yoko Ono. Whitechapel Gallery, 77-82 Whitechapel High Street, Whitechapel E1 7QX. Free.
10am-6pm daily until Sun 21 February. Beast Type Song: Display of Sophia al-Maria’s film Beast Type Song, based on Etel Adnan’s poem The Arab Apocalypse. Tate Britain, Millbank, Pimlico SW1P 4RG. Free.
Sun-Thu 10am-6pm, Fri-Sat 10am-10pm until Sun 15 March. Dora Maar: Exhibition of work by artist and poet Dora Maar. Tate Modern, Bankside SE1 9TG. £13/£12. Book now.
Wed-Sat, 12pm-11pm, Sun 12pm-10pm until Fri 20 March. Ithell Colquhoun: Exhibition of work by surrealist artist and poet Ithell Colquhoun. Viktor Wynd Museum of Curiosities, Fine Art & Natural History, 11 Mare Street, Hackney E8 4RP. £6 (or £2.50 by request on Thu evenings).
Tue-Sun 11am-8pm until Sun 29 March. Library of the Unwords: Exhibition of writings/drawings by Joo Yeon Park, responding to Samuel Beckett’s 1935 poetry collection Echo’s Bones and Other Precipitates. National Poetry Library, Royal Festival Hall, Southbank Centre, Belvedere Road, Lambeth SE1 8XX. Free.

December 2019

Fri 13 December, 6.30pm. A—Z Presents: Gaze to the UNKNOWN (Part 1: Visible & Invisible): A evening of artistic responses to the venue’s exhibition by visual poet Tomaso Binga (see ‘Ongoing Exhibitions and Shows’, above), featuring film screenings by Hans Diernberger & Will Saunders, Murat Adash, Rehana Zaman and Aura Satz, plus sound performances by Matt Carter, Peter Spanjer, Karolina Lebek, Vasiliki Antonopoulou and Johann Arens. Mimosa House, 12 Princes Street, Mayfair W1B 2LL. Free but bookable. Book now.
Fri 13 December, 7pm. Performance Poetry in Spain: Round-table and performances with Spanish poets Javier Arnaiz, Silvi Orion and Pablo Cortina, plus editor Miguel de la Quintana and scholar Diana Cullell. Instituto Cervantes, 15-19 Devereux Court, Temple WC2R 3JJ. Free.
Sat 14 December, 11am-1pm. London Modernism Seminar: Daniel Matore gives a talk on ‘The Stave and the Bar: Musicology, Typography, and Verse’, and Nathan Waddell discusses ‘The Politics of Universality: Beethoven and Anglo-American Literature, 1900-2000’. Room 1.01, Royal Holloway University of London, 11 Bedford Square, Bloomsbury WC1B 3RF. Free.
Sat 14 December, 1pm-10pm. Naviar Haiku Festival: Festival exploring intersections between haiku and avant-garde music. Featuring a haiku workshop with Marco Sebastiano Alessi, a music hackathon, and live music performances by Pedro Figueiredo, Tunnelwater and Simon McCorry. Corsica Studios, 4-5 Elephant Road, Elephant & Castle SE17 1LB. £11.44 for the full festival, £6.08 for individual activities. Book now.
Sat 14 December, 3.30pm-5.30pm. Writers Forum Workshop – New Series: Experimental poetry workshop, open to all. CANCELLED.
Sat 14 December, 7.30pm. SD: Saroj Dutta and His Times: UK Premiere of Kasturi Basu and Mitali Biswas’s documentary about revolutionary poet and journalist Saroj Dutta, followed by discussion. In Bengali and English. Hundred Years Gallery, 13 Pearson Street, Haggerston E2 8JD. Free.
Mon 16 December, 10am-5pm. States of Modernism: Collapse: Symposium on the theme of ‘collapse’ in modernism. Includes papers by Luke Roberts on Hugh MacDiarmidh, and by Alex Harris & Laura Feigel on DH Lawrence. Lecture Theatre 2, Bush House, King’s College London, 30 Aldwych, Holborn WC2B 4BG. Free but bookable. Book now.
Mon 16 December, 7pm. The People’s House | Launch Night: Readings to launch The People’s House, an anthology pamphlet of texts responding to other works. Featuring Edwina Attlee, Helen Charman, Aisha Farr, Will Harris, Maria Howard, Katy Lewis Hood, Grace Linden, Freya Marshall Payne, So Mayer and Vicky Sparrow. SET, 27a Dalston Lane, Dalston E8 3DF. Free (donations welcome).
Tue 17 December, doors 6.30pm, readings 7pm. Mal Journal x Hard to Read: Class Acts: an evening of readings, screenings and installations in response to the venue’s exhibition by visual poet Tomaso Binga (see ‘Ongoing Exhibitions and Shows’, above), featuring live readings by writers Fiona Alison Duncan, Huw Lemmey and Reba Maybury, videos by Natasha Stagg and poet Eileen Myles, and display tables by Pleasure Principles and Worms. Mimosa House, 12 Princes Street, Mayfair W1B 2LL. Free but bookable. Book now.
Tue 17 December, 7pm. Ed Atkins – Old Food Book Launch: Launch event for artist Ed Atkins’ experimental publication Old Food, featuring a performance read-through of the book by actor Toby Jones. Conway Hall, 25 Red Lion Square, Bloomsbury WC1R 4RL. £8, with all proceeds going to the charity Safe Passage International. Book now.
Tue 17 December, 7.15pm. Guillotine 10: Poetry with Rob Kiely (launching the new Gang Press publication IN IT), Nell Perry and Allen Fisher. The Beehive, Stoneleigh Road, Tottenham N17 9BQ. £4ish on the door.
Thu 19 December, 6.30pm. A—Z Presents: Gaze to the UNKNOWN (Part 2: Morphing and Transformation): A evening of artistic responses to the venue’s exhibition by visual poet Tomaso Binga (see ‘Ongoing Exhibitions and Shows’, above), featuring film screenings by Peter Spanjer, Joel Chan, Vasiliki Antonopoulou, Tobias Gremmler, Barbara Hammer and Mathis Hang Zhang, plus performances by Mathis Hang Zhang and Zoë Marden. Mimosa House, 12 Princes Street, Mayfair W1B 2LL. Free but bookable. Book now.
Thu 19 December, 7.30pm. Xmassing the Line: A festive Xing the Line poetry reading with Harriet Tarlo, mjb, Frances Presley and Colin Lee Marshall. Iklektik, Old Paradise Yard, 20 Carlisle Lane, Lambeth SE1 7LG. £5/£3 at the venue.
Fri 20 December, 7pm. A Merry Crested-Titmas: Festive poetry and performance from the Crested Tit Collective. Plus guest poets TBA. Poetry Café, 22 Betterton Street, Covent Garden WC2H 9BX. Pay what you feel, on the door.
Fri 20 December, 7pm. End of Year Drinks: End of year drinks with Prototype Publishing and Bricks from the Kiln journal. Burley Fisher Books, 400 Kingsland Road, Haggerston E8 4AA. Free.
Fri 20 December, 7pm. Ashik – Uyghur and Ottoman Sufi Music: Music from Sufi traditions, featuring Rahima Mahmut, Jan Hendrickse, Shotaro Shosaki and poet-musician Khaled Hakim. Essex Church (Kensington Unitarians), 112 Palace Gardens Terrace, Kensington W8 4RT. Entry by donation. Book now.

January 2020

Thu 9 January, 10am-12.30pm, then at the same time weekly until Thu 5 March (no session Thu 27 February). Prose or Poetry: 8-session, creative writing course on the prose-poem. Tutor: Agnieszka Studzinska. Centre for Short Courses and CPD, St Mary’s University, Waldegrave Road, Twickenham TW1 4SX. £160. Book now.
Sat 11 January, 3.30pm-5.30pm. Writers Forum Workshop – New Series: Experimental poetry workshop, open to all. The Barley Mow, 127 Curtain Road, Shoreditch EC2A 3BX. Free.
Sun 12 January, 2pm. TS Eliot Prize Preview: Jeremy Noel-Tod discusses nominees for the TS Eliot Prize. Royal Festival Hall, Southbank Centre, Belvedere Road, Lambeth SE1 8XX. £10 plus booking fee. Book now.
Sun 12 January, 7pm. TS Eliot Prize Readings: Readings by poets nominated for the TS Eliot Prize. Featuring Jay Bernard, Ilya Kaminsky, Roger Robinson, Anthony Anaxagorou, Fiona Benson, Paul Farley, Sharon Olds, Vidyan Ravinthiran, Deryn Rees-Jones and Karen Solie. Royal Festival Hall, Southbank Centre, Belvedere Road, Lambeth SE1 8XX. £12-£15 plus booking fee. Book now.
Tue 14 January, 6.30pm. French Poetry Workshop: Translating Algerian Poet Habib Tengour with Delaina Haslam: Translation workshop on Algerian poet Habib Tengour. Open to all, no knowledge of French required. Poetry Translation Centre, The Albany, Douglas Way, Deptford SE8 4AG. £8.25/£5.04, free for refugees and unwaged. Book now.
Tue 14 January, 7pm. English PEN Writer-at-Risk Celebration Event: Poets and writers present new works in tribute to authors from English Pen Writers at Risk programme. Featuring performances by Sam Jordison, Paul Ewen, Sara Upstone, SJ Fowler, Adam Baron, James Miller, Ellen Wiles, Helen Palmer and Astra Papachristodoulou. The Bishop, 2 Bishop’s Hall, Kingston KT1 1PY. Free.
Tue 14 January, 7pm. Far North in Russian Poetry: Actor Natalia Maeva performs work by Russian poets of the Silver Age, including Nikolay Gumilev, Marina Tsvetaeva, Anna Akhmatova and Nikolay Bukin, plus their Georgian contemporary Tizian Tabidze in translation by Boris Pasternak. In Russian. Pushkin House, 5a Bloomsbury Square, Bloomsbury WC1A 2TA. £5. £10/£7. Book now.
Tue 14 January, 7.30pm. Shearsman Launch Reading: Poetry with Daragh Breen and another reader TBC. Swedenborg Hall, 20/21 Bloomsbury Way, Bloomsbury WC1A 2TH. Free.
Wed 15 January – Sat 11 April, Wed-Sat 11am-6pm, Sun 12pm-5pm, first Thu of each month 11am-9pm. Tullio Crali: A Futurist Life: Exhibition of works by Italian Futurist painter and visual poet Tullio Crali. Estorick Collection of Modern Italian Art, 39a Canonbury Square, Canonbury N1 2AN. £7.50/£5.50, free for students.
Wed 15 January, 9am – Fri 17 January, 6pm. Between Departure and Arrival. Re-Assessing the Work of Ilse Aichinger and Helga Michie: Conference on the work of twin sisters, poet Ilse Aichinger and poet-artist Helga Michie. Bloomsbury Room, G35, Ground Floor, Senate House, Malet Street, Bloomsbury WC1E 7HU. Free but bookable. Book now.
Wed 15 January, study day 12.30pm-5.30pm, in conversation 6pm. Denzil Forrester Study Day: Study day on the work of painter Denzil Forrester. Speakers include poet John Lyons, artist Alvaro Bonnington, curator Osei Bonsu and art historian Eddie Chambers. In the evening, Forrester will be in conversation with painter Kimathi Donkor. Banqueting Hall, Chelsea College of Arts, 45 Millbank, Pimlico SW1P 4RL. Study day £5, evening event free but bookable. Book now.
Fri 17 January, 6.30pm. Performance: The Dark Outside by Bernard Kops: Poet Bernard Kops presents a rehearsed reading of his new play The Dark Outside. National Portrait Gallery, St Martin’s Place, Charing Cross WC2H 0HE. £10/£8. Book now.
Sat 18 January, 2.15pm-4.30pm. Panel: Activism in Poetry: The Society of Authors hosts a panel on activism in poetry, featuring poets Khairani Barokka, Claire Pollard, and more TBA. Followed by readings from Eric Gregory Award winners Mary Jean Chan and Dominic Leonard. The Society Of Authors. 24 Bedford Row, Holborn WC1R 4EH. £25 (includes drinks and nibbles). Book now.
Sat 18 January, 3pm. Wikipedia Break-Out Workshop Part 2: Workshop on expanding Wikipedia’s coverage of African, Asian and Latin American poets. Poetry Translation Centre, The Albany, Douglas Way, Deptford SE8 4AG. Free but bookable. Book now.
Sun 19 January & Sun 2 February, 12pm-4pm each day. Memory Cloud: House — The Home Movie: 2-session course on splicing fragmentary memories into poetry and creative non-fiction on the theme of home. Tutor: Anne-Marie Fyfe. The Troubadour, 263-267 Old Brompton Road, Earl’s Court SW5 9JA. £65. Book now.
Mon 20 – Wed 22 January, 7.45pm each night. Broken English: Staging of Jahmar Ngozi’s poetic play about the development of the English language. The Actors Centre, 1a Tower Street, Covent Garden WC2H 9NP. £12. Book now.
Mon 20 January, 6.30pm. Curator’s Talk: Dora Maar: Emma Lewis discusses the work of artist and poet Dora Maar. Starr Cinema, Tate Modern, Bankside SE1 9TG. £10, or £20.50 including private view of the venue’s Dora Maar exhibition. Book now.
Tue 21 January, 10am-5pm, then the same time every Tuesday until Tue 20 February. Drawing, Collage and Poetry: 5-week art course on combining drawing and poetry through collage, inspired by figures like Hannah Hoch, Max Ernst, George Braque, Lee Krasner and John Hartfield. Tutors: Mark Cazalet and Rosie Vohra. Royal Drawing School Shoreditch Studios, 19-22 Charlotte Road, Shoreditch EC2A 3SG. £220. Book now.
Tue 21 January, 6.45pm-8.45pm, then the same time weekly until Tue 24 March. Reading Course: Those Various Scalpels – Four Modernist Women: 10-week reading course about the poetry of Marianne Moore, Mina Loy, Lola Ridge and HD. Tutor: Matthew Caley. The Poetry School, 1 Dock Offices, Surrey Quays Road, Canada Water SE16 2XU. £180. Book now.
Wed 22 January, 7pm. Repeater Takeover: New Model Island: Poet Alex Niven and writer Juliet Jacques discuss New Model Island, Niven’s new book that challenges the concept of Englishness. Housmans Books, 5 Caledonian Road, Kings Cross N1 9DX. £5/£3/£1, redeemable against purchases. Book now.
Sat 25 January, 10am-4pm. Homer Day 2020: Conference about Homer and his epic poems, featuring papers by Gonda Van Steen and Antony Makrinos about Homer’s influence on modern Greek poets like Yannis Ritsos and CP Cavafy. UCL Institute of Education, 20 Bedford Way, Bloomsbury WC1H 0AL. £6/£4 on the door. Register now.
Sat 25 January, 3pm. Saturday Gallery Tour: Curator Barbara Mantorelli leads a tour of the venue’s exhibition of works by Italian Futurist painter and visual poet Tullio Crali. Estorick Collection of Modern Italian Art, 39a Canonbury Square, Canonbury N1 2AN. Free with exhibition entry (£7.50/£5.50, free for students).
Sat 25 January, 7.30pm. University Camarade V: Experimental collaborations by student poets from around the UK. Rich Mix, 35-47 Bethnal Green Road, Shoreditch E1 6LA. Free.
Sun 26 January, 1pm-3.30pm. A Walk with TS Eliot: Guided walk about modernist poet TS Eliot in London. Walk leader: Niall McDevitt. Meeting point TBA. £10.
Mon 27 January, 6.30pm. Astrology Rising: 2020 as Told by the Stars: Poet Francesca Lisette and Ignota Books publisher Ben Vickers discusses astrology’s potential in the modern world. Waterstones, 82 Gower Street, Bloomsbury WC1E 6EQ. £10/£8; or £22.40 including a copy of the Ignota Diary 2020Book now.
Tue 28 January, 6.45pm-8.45pm, then the same time fortnightly until Tue 24 March. “Between the Shadow & the Soul”: Exploring Latin American Poetry: 5-session course about the development of Latin American poetry during the 20th century. Tutor: Adam Feinstein. The Poetry School, 1 Dock Offices, Surrey Quays Road, Canada Water SE16 2XU. £95. Book now.
Tue 28 January, 6.30pm. Portuguese Poetry Workshop: Translate Brazilian Poet Carla Diacov with Annie McDermott: Translation workshop on Brazilian poet Carla Diacov. Open to all, no knowledge of Portuguese required. Poetry Translation Centre, The Albany, Douglas Way, Deptford SE8 4AG. £8.25/£5.04, free for refugees and unwaged. Book now.
Wed 29 January, 6pm. Contemporary Innovative Poetry Research Seminar: Karen Sandhu gives a talk about ‘Tales of the Archive: An Exploration of Irritating Archival Practices’. Royal Holloway University of London, 11 Bedford Square, Bloomsbury WC1B 3RF. Free.
Thu 30 January, 6.45pm-8.45pm, then at the same time fortnightly until Thu 26 March. Radical Resistances: Writing Against Sense: Creative writing course on avant-garde poetry that resists making sense, including consideration of Russian Futurism, Dada, OuLiPo and Concrete Poetry. Tutor: Mischa Foster-Poole. The Poetry School, 1 Dock Offices, Surrey Quays Road, Canada Water SE16 2XU. £95. Book now.
Thu 30 January, 7pm. Hyper Functional, Ultra Healthy | Florence Peake: CAVE: Artist Florence Peake gives a spoken word performance about cave exploration on the Jurassic Coast. Lancaster Rooms, New Wing, Somerset House, The Strand, Temple WC1R 2LA. Pay what you can. Book now.
Thu 30 January, 7pm. Getting to Noh: Noh Performance Highlights: Performances of excerpts from poet Jannette Chong’s modern Noh drama Between the Stone, and from the classic Noh play Takasago. Knowledge Centre, British Library, 96 Euston Road, Kings Cross NW1 2DB. £20/£18/£10. Book now.

February 2020

Sat 1 February, 10.30am-4.30pm. Writing the Self: Performance & Sacrifice: Poetry workshop exploring what it means to perform aspects of the self, including consideration of poems by Anne Boyer, Bhanu Kapil, Momtaza Mehri, Holly Pester and M Nourbese Philip. Tutor: Nisha Ramayya. The Poetry School, 1 Dock Offices, Surrey Quays Road, Canada Water SE16 2XU. £75. Book now.
Mon 3 February, 6.30pm. Artists’ Books Now: Discussion of the possible futures for artists’ books. Speakers TBA. Knowledge Centre, British Library, 96 Euston Road, Kings Cross NW1 2DB. £9/£7.50/£4.50. Book now.
Tue 4 February, 7pm. These Silent Mansions: Jean Sprackland & Chris McCabe: Poets Chris McCabe and Jean Sprackland discuss their  recent books about graveyards. London Review Bookshop, 14 Bury Place, Bloomsbury WC1A 2JL. £10. Book now.
Wed 5 February, 8pm. Spanish Poetry in London: Spanish poet Eduardo Moga and translator Terence Dooley read from the new anthology Streets Where to Walk is to Embark: Spanish Poets in London 1811-2018. In Spanish and English. National Poetry Library, Royal Festival Hall, Southbank Centre, Belvedere Road, Lambeth SE1 8XX. £5 plus booking fee. Book now.
Thu 6 February, 7pm. RENDANG: Will Harris & Rachael Allen: Will Harris reads to launch his poetry collection RENDANG. Plus more poetry from Rachael  Allen. London Review Bookshop, 14 Bury Place, Bloomsbury WC1A 2JL. £10. Book now.
Thu 6 February, 7pm. First Thursdays Late Opening Night with Curatorial Tour: Curator Christopher Adams leads a tour of the venue’s exhibition of works by Italian Futurist painter and visual poet Tullio Crali. Estorick Collection of Modern Italian Art, 39a Canonbury Square, Canonbury N1 2AN. Free with exhibition entry (£7.50/£5.50, free for students).
Sat 8 February, 3.30pm-5.30pm. Writers Forum Workshop – New Series: Experimental poetry workshop, open to all. The Barley Mow, 127 Curtain Road, Shoreditch EC2A 3BX. Free.
Sun 9 February, 10.30am-4.30pm, then Sun 15 March, 10.30am-4.30pm. Her Voracious Stare: Inspiration from the Eye & Art of Dora Maar: 2-session poetry writing course inspired by Tate Modern’s exhibition of art by Dora Maar. Tutor: Rachel Long. Tate Modern, Bankside SE1 9TG (Sun 9 February); The Poetry School, 1 Dock Offices, Surrey Quays Road, Canada Water SE16 2XU (Sun 15 March). £150. Book now.
Mon 10 February, 6.30pm. Bengali Poetry Workshop: Translating Poet Nirmalendu Goon: Translation workshop on Bengali poet Nirmalendu Goon. Open to all, no knowledge of Bengali required. Workshop leader: Shamim Azad. Poetry Translation Centre, The Albany, Douglas Way, Deptford SE8 4AG. £8.25/£5.04, free for refugees and unwaged. Book now.
Mon 10 February, 6.30pm. Curator’s Tour: Dora Maar: Provocateur: Emma Jones leads a guided tour of the venue’s exhibition on artist and poet Dora Maar. Tate Modern, Bankside SE1 9TG. £20.50/£18 (presumably includes exhibition entry). Book now.
Tue 11 February, 6.30pm. Yorùbá Poetry Workshop: Translating poet Túbọ̀sún Ọládàpọ̀ with Kọ́lá Túbọ̀sún: Translation workshop on Nigerian Yorùbá poet Túbọ̀sún Ọládàpọ̀. Open to all, no knowledge of Yorùbá required. Poetry Translation Centre, The Albany, Douglas Way, Deptford SE8 4AG. £8.25/£5.04, free for refugees and unwaged. Book now.
Tue 11 February, 7.30pm. Shearsman Launch Reading: Poets TBC. Swedenborg Hall, 20/21 Bloomsbury Way, Bloomsbury WC1A 2TH. Free.
Sat 15 & Sun 16 February, 10.30am-4.30pm each day. X-Lit: Ways into Memoir: Creative writing course on writing poetic and experimental memoirs, including consideration of work by Lyn Hejinian, Maggie Nelson and Ta-Nehisi Coates. Tutor: Hannah Lowe. The Poetry School, 1 Dock Offices, Surrey Quays Road, Canada Water SE16 2XU. £150. Book now.
Mon 17 February, 7.30pm. Samuel Beckett: Fail Better: Poetry, performance and discussion responding to the role of failure in the work of Samuel Beckett. Wiltons Music Hall, 1 Graces Alley, Whitechapel E1 8JB. £8-£17. Book now.
Tue 18 February, 7pm (opening event), then until 10 March, days and times TBC. Notational Literature, the Unfinished Work: Exhibition of ‘unfinished’ visual poetry. Launch event features poetry and performance by Simon Brown, Agnieszka Studzinka, Kate Scott, Jamie Toy, Julia Rose Lewis, Simon Tyrrell, Astra Papachristodoulou, John Patrick Hughes, Lucy Furlong and Eugene Kim. See the link for how to submit work to the exhibition (deadline Wed 5 February). Museum of Futures, 117 Brighton Road, Surbiton KT6 5NJ. Free.
Tue 18 February, 10am-11.30pm. Under 5s Session: Play in the Sky: Guided tour of the venue’s exhibition of works by Italian Futurist painter and visual poet Tullio Crali, plus a flight-themed play session. Only for under 5s and their parents/carers. Estorick Collection of Modern Italian Art, 39a Canonbury Square, Canonbury N1 2AN. Free but bookable; booking details here.
Tue 18 February, 7pm. Thing of Beauty: Apartment House Performs Jackson Mac Low: Experimental music ensemble Apartment House performs works by Fluxus poet Jackson Mac Low. Performance Space, College Building, City University of London, St John Street, City of London EC1V 4PB. Free but bookable. Book now.
Wed 19 February, 8pm. Coalesce: Chinese poet Yu Yoyo and translator AK Blakemore perform alongside musicians Cheng Yu, Wang Xiao, Charlie Cawood, DJ QuestionMark and An-Ting Chang. Kings Place, 90 York Way, Kings Cross N1 9AG. £9.50 plus booking fee. Book now.
Thu 20 February, 7pm. ignitionpress London Launch: Mia Kang, Majella Kelly and Alycia Pirmohamed read to launch their new poetry pamphlets from ignitionpress. Poetry Café, 22 Betterton Street, Covent Garden WC2H 9BX. Free but bookable. Book now.
Fri 21 February, 9.30am-5.45pm. Liminal London: Symposium on real and unreal spaces in 20th-century London. The call for papers is open until Thu 9 January – the convenors are open to proposals for papers on avant-garde performance spaces. Keynes Library, School of Arts, Birkbeck University of London, 43 Gordon Square, Bloomsbury WC1H 0PD. Booking arrangements TBC.
Sat 22 February, 9am-6pm. Japan Now: A day of readings and talks with Japanese writers, translators and artists. Featuring poet Hiromi Itō, plus fiction writers Yukiko Motoya and Hiroko Oyamada. Knowledge Centre, British Library, 96 Euston Road, Kings Cross NW1 2DB. £20/£17/£10. Book now.
Sat 22 February, times TBC. Free Verse: The Poetry Book & Magazine Fair: Stalls selling books, magazines and pamphlets from a multitude of poetry presses, plus a programme of readings and workshops. Conway Hall, 25 Red Lion Square, Holborn WC1R 4RL. Presumably free entry.
Tue 25 February, 6.30pm. Translating Spanish Poetry: Translating Silvina Giaganti with Leo Boix: Translation workshop on Argentinian poet Silvina Giaganti. Open to all, no knowledge of Spanish required. Poetry Translation Centre, The Albany, Douglas Way, Deptford SE8 4AG. £8.25/£5.04, free for refugees and unwaged. Book now.
Tue 25 February, 7pm. Delusions of Grandeur: Readings and performances on the theme of delusion, and in celebration of the innovative press Dostoyevsky Wannabe. Featuring Hannah Ballou, SJ Fowler, Nadia De Vries, Christodoulos Makris, Dominic Jaeckle and Matt Birchwood. Museum of Futures, 117 Brighton Road, Surbiton KT6 5NJ. Free.
Wed 26 February, 6pm. Contemporary Innovative Poetry Research Seminar: Georgina Colby leads a seminar about contemporary innovative poetry. Royal Holloway University of London, 11 Bedford Square, Bloomsbury WC1B 3RF. Free.
Sat 29 February, 3pm. Saturday Gallery Tour: Curator Barbara Mantorelli leads a tour of the venue’s exhibition of works by Italian Futurist painter and visual poet Tullio Crali. Estorick Collection of Modern Italian Art, 39a Canonbury Square, Canonbury N1 2AN. Free with exhibition entry (£7.50/£5.50, free for students).

March 2020

Tue 3 March, 6pm. Bachmann – Celan – Bachmann: Poet and translator Peter Filkins discusses the relationship between poets Ingeborg Bachmann and Paul Celan. Room G21A, Senate House, Malet Street, Bloomsbury WC1E 7HU. Free but bookable. Book now.
Wed 4 March, 6.30pm-9pm, then at the same time on Wed 11 and Wed 18 March. Creative Writing – Immersive Word Forests: 3-week creative writing course exploring the representation of forests in literature and art, inspired by the venue’s exhibition by Vivian Suter. Tutor: Ellen Wiles. Camden Arts Centre, Arkwright Road, Hampstead NW3 6DG. £100/£75. Book now.
Thu 5 March, 7pm. First Thursdays Late Opening Night with Curatorial Tour: Curator Christopher Adams leads a tour of the venue’s exhibition of works by Italian Futurist painter and visual poet Tullio Crali. Estorick Collection of Modern Italian Art, 39a Canonbury Square, Canonbury N1 2AN. Free with exhibition entry (£7.50/£5.50, free for students).
Mon 9 March, 6.15pm. Crnjanski and London: Discussion about Serbian novelist and poet Miloš Crnjanski’s time in London. Featuring translators Christina Pribičević-Zorić and Will Firth, scholar David Norris and actor Vesna Stanojević. Knowledge Centre, British Library, 96 Euston Road, Kings Cross NW1 2DB. £11/£9.50/£5.50. Book now.
Mon 9 March, 6.30pm-8.30pm. Words in Freedom: Experimental Writing Workshop: Creative writing workshop in response to Italian Futurist painter and visual poet Tullio Crali’s manifesto Musical Words: Alphabet in Freedom. Workshop leader: Ellen Wiles. Estorick Collection of Modern Italian Art, 39a Canonbury Square, Canonbury N1 2AN. Pricing TBC. Booking not yet open.
Tue 10 March, 7pm. Poem Brut: A performance event on the theme of mess, featuring poets, artists and writers like Helen Palmer, Simon Tyrrell, Jamie Toy, Julia Rose Lewis, Patrick Cosgrove and Sara Upstone. Museum of Futures, 117 Brighton Road, Surbiton KT6 5NJ. Free.
Sat 14 March, 10.30am-4.30pm. This Goes There, That Comes After: List Poems: Creative writing workshop about approaches to the list poem, inspired by poets like Caroline Bergvall, Miles Champion and Matthew Welton. Tutor: James Davies. The Poetry School, 1 Dock Offices, Surrey Quays Road, Canada Water SE16 2XU. £75. Book now.
Sat 14 March, 10.30am-4.30pm. Window, Mirror, Knife, Disaster, & Reinvention: Poetry of Glass: Creative writing workshop on poetry using imagery of glass, inspired by poets like Charles Tomlinson, Claire Crowther, Peter Redgrove and Michael Ondaatje. Tutor: Judy Brown. The Poetry School, 1 Dock Offices, Surrey Quays Road, Canada Water SE16 2XU. £75. Book now.
Sat 14 March, 3.30pm-5.30pm. Writers Forum Workshop – New Series: Experimental poetry workshop, open to all. The Barley Mow, 127 Curtain Road, Shoreditch EC2A 3BX. Free.
Mon 16 March, 7.30pm. The Little Green Notebook of Che Guevara: Perormances of Che Guevara’s favourite poems, featuring work by Pablo Neruda, Nicolás Guillén, César Vallejo and León Felipe. In Spanish and English. Wiltons Music Hall, 1 Graces Alley, Whitechapel E1 8JB. £8-£17. Book now.
Tue 17 March, 7.30pm. James Baldwin: Nobody Knows My Name: Poetry and discussion in tribute to novelist James Baldwin. Wiltons Music Hall, 1 Graces Alley, Whitechapel E1 8JB. £8-£17. Book now.
Sat 21 & Sun 22 March, 10.30am-4.30pm each day. Soundtext Weekender: 2-day workshop on sound experimentation and text generation, using audio equipment, samplers and editing software. Tutor: Antosh Wojcik. The Poetry School, 1 Dock Offices, Surrey Quays Road, Canada Water SE16 2XU. £150. Book now.
Sat 21 March, 3pm. Saturday Gallery Tour: Curator Barbara Mantorelli leads a tour of the venue’s exhibition of works by Italian Futurist painter and visual poet Tullio Crali. Estorick Collection of Modern Italian Art, 39a Canonbury Square, Canonbury N1 2AN. Free with exhibition entry (£7.50/£5.50, free for students).
Tue 24 March, 6.30pm. Tamil Poetry Workshop: Translating the Poet Sugan with Hari Rajaledchumy: Translation workshop on Sri Lankan Tamil poet Sugan. Open to all, no knowledge of Tamil required. Poetry Translation Centre, The Albany, Douglas Way, Deptford SE8 4AG. £8.25/£5.04, free for refugees and unwaged. Book now.
Wed 25 March, 6pm. Contemporary Innovative Poetry Research Seminar: Rowan Evans leads a seminar about contemporary innovative poetry. Royal Holloway University of London, 11 Bedford Square, Bloomsbury WC1B 3RF. Free.
Wed 25 March, 8pm. National Poetry Library Lates: Anna Selby and others read poetry responding to the venue’s exhibition Among the Trees. Hayward Gallery, Southbank Centre, Belvedere Road, Lambeth SE1 8XX. £10 plus booking fee. Book now.
Thu 26 March, 6.30pm. Dead White Anarchists: Paul Case performs his spoken word theatre show about anarchism in Paris during 1892. Housmans Books, 5 Caledonian Road, Kings Cross N1 9DX. Free entry, donations welcome.
Sun 29 March, 1pm-3.30pm. Poets of the Embankment: Guided walk about London’s history of poetry beside the River Thames, including modern figures like the Beat poets. Walk leader: Niall McDevitt. Meeting point TBC. £10.
Mon 30 March, 6.30pm-8.30pm. Adult Art Class: Art in Orbit: Art workshop responding to Italian Futurist painter and visual poet Tullio Crali’s manifesto Orbital Art. Workshop leader: Giles Bunch. Estorick Collection of Modern Italian Art, 39a Canonbury Square, Canonbury N1 2AN. £20. Book now.

April 2020

Wed 1 April, 8pm. Crossing Boundaries: Readings by UK-based poets of East Asian heritages and identities, featuring Natalie Linh Bolderston, L Kiew, Jennifer Lee Tsai, Jennifer Wong, Nina Mingya Powles and Jay G Ying. Plus a talk on East Asian visibility by David Tse Ka-Shing. Poetry Library, Royal Festival Hall, Southbank Centre, Belvedere Road, Lambeth SE1 8XX. £7 plus booking fee. Book now.
Thu 2 April, 7pm. First Thursdays Late Opening Night with Curatorial Tour: Curator Christopher Adams leads a tour of the venue’s exhibition of works by Italian Futurist painter and visual poet Tullio Crali. Estorick Collection of Modern Italian Art, 39a Canonbury Square, Canonbury N1 2AN. Free with exhibition entry (£7.50/£5.50, free for students).
Fri 3 April, 7pm. European Poetry Festival: Readings and performances by poets from throughout Europe, featuring Katerina Koulouri, Agnieszka Studzinka and many more. Rose Theatre, 24-26 High Street, Kingston upon Thames KT1 1HL. Free.
Sat 11 April, 3.30pm-5.30pm. Writers Forum Workshop – New Series: Experimental poetry workshop, open to all. The Barley Mow, 127 Curtain Road, Shoreditch EC2A 3BX. Free.
Mon 20 April, 7.30pm. The Unofficial Countryside: Nature writer Richard Mabey and poet Iain Sinclair discuss resurgent nature in urban wastelands. Kings Place, 90 York Way, Kings Cross N1 9AG. £12.50 plus booking fee. Book now.
Wed 22 April, 6pm. Encounters: Andrea Grill and Tess Lewis: Austrian poet Andrea Grill discusses her recent novels with her translator, Tess Lewis. Room 243, Senate House, Malet Street, Bloomsbury WC1E 7HU. Free but bookable. Booking opens Sun 1 March.
Wed 22 April, 8pm and 8.30pm. Leaving the City: Poets on Trees: 10 poets perform new work in response to the venue’s exhibition Among the Trees. Readers include Anna Selby, L Kiew, Mona Arshi and Seán Hewitt. Hayward Gallery, Southbank Centre, Belvedere Road, Lambeth SE1 8XX. £15 plus booking fee. Book now.
Wed 29 April, 6pm. Contemporary Innovative Poetry Research Seminar: Allen Fisher leads a seminar about contemporary innovative poetry. Royal Holloway University of London, 11 Bedford Square, Bloomsbury WC1B 3RF. Free.
Thu 30 April, 10am-12.30pm, then at the same time weekly until Thu 25 June (no session Thu 28 May). Ekphrastic Writing: Creative writing course in 8 sessions, on using visual art as inspiration for poetry and prose. Tutor: Agnieszka Studzinska. The Exchange, 75 London Road, Twickenham TW1 1BE. £160. Book now.
Thu 30 April, 8.30pm. Audre Lorde – The Berlin Years 1984–1992: Screening of Dagmar Schultz’s documentary about poet Audre Lorde’s time in West Berlin during the 1980s. Peckhamplex, 95a Rye Lane, Peckham SE15 4ST. £4.99. Book now.

May 2020

Tue 5 May, 7.30pm. Sophie Seita & Naomi Woo – Beethoven Was a Lesbian, and Other Pieces: Poet Sophie Seita and musician Naomi Woo present the performance pieces Beethoven Was a Lesbian and Reveille, homages to composer Pauline Oliveros and artist Theresa Hak Kyung Cha respectively. Café OTO, 18-22 Ashwin Street, Dalston E8 3DL. £8 advance, £10 on the door. Book now.
Sat 9 May, 3.30pm-5.30pm. Writers Forum Workshop – New Series: Experimental poetry workshop, open to all. The Barley Mow, 127 Curtain Road, Shoreditch EC2A 3BX. Free.
Wed 13 & Thu 14 May, times TBC. Lydia Davis: Writing, Reading and Translation: Conference about prose poet, experimental writer and translator Lydia Davis. The call for papers is here – deadline Sun 15 December 2019. Rooms TBC, Senate House, Malet Street, Bloomsbury WC1E 7HU. Pricing TBC.

June 2020

Sat 13 June, 3.30pm-5.30pm. Writers Forum Workshop – New Series: Experimental poetry workshop, open to all. The Barley Mow, 127 Curtain Road, Shoreditch EC2A 3BX. Free.
Sat 20 June, time TBC. Creative Activism Now!: Andrew Salkey and Today’s Diasporic Cultural Networks: Conference about novelist and poet Andrew Salkey, focusing on his relevance for the Black diaspora today. The call for papers is here – deadline Mon 27 January 2020. Knowledge Centre, British Library, 96 Euston Road, Kings Cross NW1 2DB. Pricing TBC.

July 2020

Sat 11 July, 3.30pm-5.30pm. Writers Forum Workshop – New Series: Experimental poetry workshop, open to all. The Barley Mow, 127 Curtain Road, Shoreditch EC2A 3BX. Free.
Mon 20 July, 7.30pm. Dead [Women] Poets Society:  Poets Nina Mingya Powles and Bridget Minamore discuss dead women writers who have influenced their work. Poetry Café, 22 Betterton Street, Covent Garden WC2H 9BX. £5/£3. Book now.
Sun 26 July, 1pm-3.30pm. The Kensington Modernists: Were They Antisemites?: Guided walk about Kensington-based modernist writers like Ezra Pound, TS Eliot, Wyndham Lewis and Virginia Woolf, considering their antisemitism. Walk leader: Niall McDevitt. Meeting point TBC. £10.

August 2020

Sat 8 August, 3.30pm-5.30pm. Writers Forum Workshop – New Series: Experimental poetry workshop, open to all. The Barley Mow, 127 Curtain Road, Shoreditch EC2A 3BX. Free.

September 2020

Sat 12 September, 3.30pm-5.30pm. Writers Forum Workshop – New Series: Experimental poetry workshop, open to all. The Barley Mow, 127 Curtain Road, Shoreditch EC2A 3BX. Free.
Sun 27 September, 1pm-3.30pm. Poets of Hammersmith: Guided walk about poets in Hammersmith, including modern writers like WH Auden, Aleister Crowley and David Gascoyne. Walk leader: Niall McDevitt. Meeting point TBC. £10.

FAQ:

  • Who updates this?
    • The listings are primarily maintained and updated by Matt Martin, Stuart Hall Research Scholar and PhD student in the CPRC at Birkbeck.
  • Haven’t I seen this 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 country?
  • How can I get my event listed?
    • Email us at cprc.readings@gmail.com with details of any readings or other events for this page. Email us if you spot any errors too, please. You can also contact us via Facebook. 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.
  • 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’ (or ‘postmodernist’, ‘neo-modernist’ etc.). Such poetry diverges from the conservative norm in many different directions – a personal view from Peter Philpott is online here. These scenes are constantly developing. Recent years have seen more acceptance of innovative poetry by universities, major publishers, literary prize-givers and other institutions – though 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, LGBTQ+, 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.