Best poetry and spoken word literary nights in London

Jessie Thompson

We're happy to jump on any chance to celebrate that an artform that is simply "the best words in the best order" - at least according to Samuel Taylor Coleridge.

William Wordsworth called it the “spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings” and Emily Dickinson said it made her feel as if the top of her head had been taken off. However you prefer to think of poetry, it’s something worth celebrating.

If you want more of the best words in the best order in your life, there are plenty of places in London where you can go to hear poetry. We’ve rounded up the best nights for you to add to your diary.

Rhymes with Orange

This monthly spoken word night has a regular slot at Farr's School of Dancing in Dalston. And it won’t penalise you for not finding anything to rhyme with orange. It offers a supportive environment for first timers to have a go, and if you catch the bug you could even win a ten minute featured slot at the next night. Be quick though, open mic slots sell out fast.

Farr's School of Dancing, E8, orangesrhyme.com

Hammer and Tongue

Hammer and Tongue is a fixture in venues from Brighton to Bristol, but it also has a year round programme in London. They have open slams at every one of their nights, which are also at The Book Club.

The Book Club, EC2, hammerandtongue.com

Bang Said The Gun

Bang Said The Gun describes itself as ‘poetry for people who don’t like poetry’. If you poetry haters happen to find yourself at a poetry night, you can catch this night across the country, from Latitude to Brighton Festival, but they appear regularly in venues across London, with upcoming gigs at the Soho Theatre.

Soho Theatre, W1, bangsaidthegun.com

Jawdance

This night at Rich Mix says it offers great poetry, great music, and great vibes. There’s a lucky dip draw for having a bash at open mic, and it’s partly the brainchild of Apples and Snakes, England’s leading organisation for performance poetry and spoken word. It takes place once a month and is free, hosted by Yomi Sode.

Rich Mix, E1, richmix.org.uk

Tongue Fu

Tongue Fu also takes place at Rich Mix, as well as touring the country. It calls itself a ‘riotous experiment’ with literature, music and improvisation, and have previously counted Kate Tempest, Lemn Sissay and Hollie McNish amongst their guests.

Rich Mix, E1, tonguefu.co.uk

National Poetry Library

This is more of a resource for poetry lovers to enjoy to their heart’s content. Housed at the Southbank Centre, it has the most comprehensive collection of poetry in Britain from 1912 onwards. Their website also contains an invaluable listings section of where to hear poetry in London.

Southbank Centre, SE1, poetrylibrary.org.uk

European Poetry Festival

From April 4-15, 70 of Europe's most innovative poets descend on the UK for a literary celebration. It's all about collaborations, which take place at Rich Mix, Burley Fisher bookshop and Poetry Society's Cafe. Never heard Latvian or Swiss poetry before? Here's your chance.

Rich Mix, E1, europeanpoetryfestival.com; Burley Fisher, E8, burleyfisherbooks.com​, Poetry Society, WC2, poetrysociety.org.uk