Creative, Culture, Manchester

A Selection of Weird and Wonderful Spoken Word Sessions around Manchester

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Presented by HAUNT Manchester and aAh! Magazine

A good spoken word event is not only an opportunity to share work with an audience if you are a writer – but it’s also well worth being part of the crowd, for an inspiring and unique experience. Here you can see culture at its most cutting-edge: an opportunity to enjoy poetry, stories, slam-style pieces and performance, when it is still fresh. Plus a chance to meet new people and a range of creatives in a friendly format. Why not give one (or more) a try?

The below is by no means a definitive list, just a selection of some of Greater Manchester’s great cultural offerings! Some events may not have been featured at this time due to changes in venue/dates – and this list will be updated as time goes on. Putting on a regular event or know of one you think should be featured? We’d love to hear from you! Get in touch at


Photography with thanks to Shay Rowan

Jimmy’s, 12 Newton St, Manchester M1 2AN

Don’t just raise your voice, take it to SPEAK. This is an energetic and vibrant spoken word night taking place downstairs at Jimmy’s bar in the Northern Quarter, typically on the third Thursday of every month. Expect a great night out whether you are a poetry fan or not – as this is a high-adrenaline, exciting experience. It’s hosted by partners in rhyme Rosie Fleeshman and Alex Slater, offering poetry, performance and plenty of banter. Get involved, as there are 10 open mic slots every month – available on a first come, first served basis via the email address– as well as special guest poet each time. In the past these guests have included the likes of Dave Viney, ARGH KiD and Rose Condo. SPEAK celebrates the diversity of its audience and performers; whether people have performed before or are new to the field. Expect a good-humoured, vibrant night with plenty of applause! Stay updated on social media.


Fred’s Ale House, 843 Stockport Rd, Levenshulme, Manchester M19 3PW

Winner of the ‘Best Regular Spoken Word Night’ at the 2018 Saboteur Awards, Verbose takes place in the friendly setting of Fred’s Ale House in Levenshulme – typically on the 4th Monday of the month. Formerly hosted by the inspiring Zena Barrie and Jo Howard for a number of years, it is now in the capable hands of a word-loving trio: Adam, Ava and Zoe. Expect a warm welcome, whatever your style – with poetry, prose and flash fiction readings incorporated across the (pre-booked) open mic slots, as well as at least one headliner featuring. To read at future editions, simply get in touch at and keep updated online. Each night usually has a theme for readers to respond to,including the likes of fairytales, food, the body, and working class stories, in the past. On the mic they’ve had various names from across the poetry and spoken word scene including Eleanor Rees, Maz Hedgehog and Cheryl Pearson. Audience members are welcome and entry is free! Even better, Levenshulme is just a short bus journey out of Manchester city centre (the 192 being a good choice), or aneven shorter train ride – typically less than 10 minutes from Piccadilly! Special events take place too, and it is well worth getting involved – flash fiction workshopping with acclaimed author Tania Hershman being just one example of previous content.

Punk in Drublic

Poetry, performance and comedy come together to raise money for charity! Founded in 2017 and typically taking place monthly, Punk in Drublic is a friendly, immersive evening taking place in various venues – though Lock 91 just off Deansgate and Dulcimer in Chorlton are common choices. It is usually hosted by the inspiring Rob Steventon. During its much-loved lifetime in Manchester, Punk in Drublic has raised over £2000 for the local Mustard Tree Homelessness charity and has featured the likes of Jamali Maddix, Attila The Stockbroker and Jackie Hagan. It was shortlisted for ‘The Best Regular Spoken Word Night in the UK’ award at 2019’s Saboteur Awards. Stay updated via the Facebook page

Bad Language

Gullivers, 109 Oldham St, Manchester M4 1LW

Running since 2010, Bad Language is a lively poetry and prose night promising plenty of fun and a warm welcome. It usually runs on the last Wednesday of every month from 7.30 pm onwards upstairs at Gullivers on Oldham Street in the Northern Quarter. Hilarious hosts Fat Roland and Joe Daly turn proceedings into an anarchic evening. Want to take part? There’s an open mic section featuring 10 spaces at every event, with 5 of those spaces reserved for people who have never performed at Bad Language before. So no need to worry about being a Bad Language virgin! There is also typically a headliner for every month, in the past including the likes of Helen Mort and Ian Humphreys. Winner of the UK’s Best Regular Spoken Word Night 2015 and 2016 and still going strong, this is a popular night to try out the spotlight.

Word Central

Manchester Central Library, St Peter’s Square, Manchester M2 5PD

Open mic opportunities in the stunning location of Manchester’s Central Library, just off St Peter’s Square. Word Central is a monthly spoken word session hosted by Tony Curry and taking place early in the evening – usually around 6pm – so an ideal go-to event, and suitable if you don’t want a late night out. Typically taking place on the first week of the month (keep updated online for which day it will fall), it operates in association with Manchester Libraries (and their great Library Live programme) and Flapjack Press – the much-loved Northern-based publisher of spoken word poetry. With reading slots usually at a 3-minute maximum, this allows for an energetic and exciting event, with performers in the past including Thick Richard and Hilary Walker. The Word Central format also travels out into the suburbs; keep your eyes peeled for specials.

Big Words at Vinyl Fiction

Vinyl Fiction, 103 Manchester Road, Chorlton M21 9GA

Spoken word inside an independent book and music shop– sounds like a winning combination! The vibrant Chorlton-based Vinyl Fiction is the venue for ‘Big Words’, a spoken word open mic taking place typically on the 3rd Thursday evening of the month. Hosted by Alistair McDowall and David Hartley, this is energetic live literature welcoming a variety of content: poetry, short stories, drama, non-fiction and more. Writers of all abilities are welcome, with slots available via the email – or you are welcome to just come along and watch!  Big Words is the opportunity for an enjoyable evening of creativity within an inspired setting – plus beers are available from the neighbouring bar.

Poets and Players 

A combination of poetry readings and classical music in Manchester, with The Whitworth Art Gallery being the main venue. Founded in 2004 by Linda Chase with Musical Director Chris Davies, the format is typically a free Saturdayafternoon event showcasing new and emerging talent alongside experienced writers, complete with musical features. Readers in the past have included the likes of LornaGoodison, Kei Miller, Rebecca Audra Smith, Michael Symmons Roberts and Martin Kratz. For upcoming events, dates and times, keep updated via the website.

That’s What She Said

Tribeca, 50 Sackville St, Manchester M1 3WF

A night celebrating female and non-binary creatives and writers in the city. ‘That’s What She Said’ is a fabulous and fierce spoken word extravaganza that returns monthly to Tribeca on Sackville Street from October 2019 onwards, following successful shows at the Edinburgh Fringe and the Royal Albert Hall.  The night explores a number of genres and formats, as well as featuring at least one headliner and an open mic. From poetry and storytelling to slam-style, this is an eclectic mix – and guests in the past have included the likes of Rosie Garland, Helen Darby and Holly Ringland. That’s What She Said is hosted by Jane Bradley of For Books’ Sake.  Previously shortlisted for Best Spoken Word Night in the UK, this year’s format holds even more excitement.

Flim Nite

Gullivers, 109 Oldham St, Manchester M4 1LW

What is a ‘Flim’? Come along and find out! Flim Nite is an evening of retelling popular films through innovative performance… so that means big-screen favourites presented in the form of poetry, comedy, music, spoken word and more. Typically taking place on the first Monday evening of the month at Gullivers on Oldham Street, stay updated via the Facebook and Twitter page to get involved…or just come along and watch. Expect plenty of laughs and lots of creativity. Classics given the ‘Flim’ treatment in the past have included Matilda, Fight Club, Howl’s Moving Castle and even Flash Gordon… it changes every time!

Speak Easy

The Sip Club, 164A Barton Road, Stretford, Manchester M32 8DP

Live poetry and fiction presented in a living room of literature – the cosy spot that is Stretford Sip Club! Come upstairs in this quaint and characterful venue to discover a spoken word night known for its friendly and supportive nature – typically taking place on the first Wednesday evening of the month (though keep updated via the Facebook page for details). Speak Easy is relaxed and enjoyable for people of all abilities.  First-timers are encouraged, with a range of readings welcome, including poetry, prose and creative nonfiction. Open mic slots are available, with usually two or three per session, lasting up to five minutes each. 

Peter Barlow’s Cigarette 

This interestingly-named reading series provides a platform for innovative poetry – usually taking place monthly on a Saturday afternoon (though this is changeable). They haveused a selection of venues, but Waterstones Deansgate is a popular and atmospheric choice. ‘An afternoon of alternative poetries’, this is an ideal occasion to hear from a range of readers – and Peter Barlow’s Cigarette has also been involved in hosting open mic evening sessions. Stay updated via the Facebook page

One Mic Stand

Expect poetry slamming, performance and plenty of attitude. One Mic Stand is a high-energy event presented by Contact – the Oxford Road based theatre – and Young Identity, who are some of Manchester’s most cutting-edge young spoken word artists. A poetry slam with added adrenaline, it typically takes the format of 10 poets being given 3 minutes each to impress the audience through their way with words – with opportunity for the winner to get their hands on a top prize. It is hosted in various venues, stay updated via the Contact website for times and details; for example, the next 2019 event takes place at Band on the Wall on 28 November 2019. Events have previously included the likes of Tukaiisloveletter, SLAMbassadors founder Joelle Taylor and many more. 

Open Door at Nook

Nook, 111 Heaton Moor Road, Heaton Moor, Stockport, SK4 4HY

An evening of open mic, acoustic and spoken word sessions at cosy Heaton Moor café-bar Nook. Typically taking place every week on a Thursday, this is an opportunity to hear a range of talent as well as get involved yourself –  in a supportive and intimate atmosphere. Free entry, for more information get in touch via and there is a Facebook page for updates too. 

… And a special event!


The Font Manchester, 7-9 New Wakefield St, Manchester M1 5NP

A charity night of sensational spoken word to mark Bi Visibility Day. Come along on Monday 23rd September to The Font Manchester, just by Oxford Road Station, for an evening of readings from Bi and Pan identifying poets and writers (from 7pm onwards)! There will be passionate poetry and spoken word performances, as well as fabulous comperes Drew Lawson and Helen Darby. Entry for the evening is on a Pay As You Feel (PAYF) basis, and all proceeds will be split equally between Biscuit and Biphoria. Added goodies includea unicorn tombola, unicorn dress up, cocktails, mocktails, and DJ Jess Rose on the decks right up until 1am! It’s a packed line-up of performers to fill the night after all, featuring:

Jackie Hagan
Rosie Garland
Maz Hedgehog
Genevieve Walsh
J Lythgoe
Bob Horton 
Jane Claire Bradley
Janey Colbourne
Bryony Bates
Midnight Shelley
Andy Pilkington
Bonnie Hancell

In addition, The LGBT Foundation will have a stall at the event, run by Ashleigh Talbot, so you can find out more.

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