A Spoken Word Summer

Ross MacFarlane

Glasgow has had a summer of sport; a summer of “People Make Glasgow”; even a summer of (intermittent) sun; but what this summer has also seen is the crest of a new wave of performance poetry and spoken word that has been building over the past few years. With shows available two to three times per week consistently throughout the summer months and the increased mobilisation of artists through social media, Glasgow’s poetry scene has flourished in the Scottish sun.

I immersed myself as fully as I could in the spoken word performances of comics, artists and activists. The guiding lights and the troubadours of Scottish culture are hitting astronomical heights week in, week out so here is a short overview of the regular nights on the Glasgow scene. From the atmosphere to the performers – along with some of the highlights from a selection of standalone shows – this is a taste of what’s going on in and around the city.

The Verse Hearse

Billed as “Where poetry comes to die”, the Verse Hearse sees some pretty lively performances from its headline acts as well as its guests on the open mic. The successful merging and management of the two mediums certainly made the night stand out, with a display of how entertaining stage poetry can be while sustaining the structure and style of the page. Venue-wise, the Gilchrist Postgraduate Club allowed for relaxed viewing in the always enjoyable surroundings of Glasgow University’s main building.

The Verse Hearse returns with a Referendum Reaction Special on September 19th at The Gilchrist Postgraduate Club – free entry, open to all.

Rally & Broad

Never could a show be more aptly deemed a celebration of performance. From their monthly cabarets to their Commonwealth Slam, Rally & Broad have certainly delivered entertainment at every turn. Sometimes for the sake of entertainment and sometimes for very serious and thought out argument, but nevertheless, always enjoyable.  The wonderful stylings of hosts Jenny Lindsay and Rachel McCrum and the well picked and mixed guests makes Rally & Broad a must see any time it makes its way over from Edinburgh.

Rally & Broad will be back in Glasgow from October 26th at Stereo – 18+, £5 entry.

Inn Deep. Poetry. Spoken Word.

Underground poetry, quite literally. Compered by the electric tour de force that is Sam Small, this monthly show consistently has crowds filling the venue out, making for an intimate night of performance. Mixing old with new, Inn Deep showcases top talent every month with plenty of slots available for those just breaking into the scene. Despite being successful on a regular night, this show continues to evolve and build momentum with all female poet line-ups and two slam competitions.

Inn Deep. Poetry. Spoken Word. runs the second Tuesday of each month in Inn Deep – 18+, free entry.

The Project Cafe Open Mic

This weekly open mic takes in musicians, actors, writers and poets alike. The most relaxed night on the list, The Project Cafe offers a welcoming environment for new performers to cut their teeth and for new material to be trialed. Free performances, bring your own bottle and wonderful pizza served by smiling staff – every week this night is an absolute treat.

The Project Cafe Open Mic runs every Friday night at The Project Cafe – open to all, free entry, BYOB (£2 corkage).

Last Monday at Rio’s

The longest running poetry night on this list, The Rio Cafe comes highly recommended amongst the mainstays of the Glasgow scene. A park-side Partick setting for some fantastic page poetry and a good measure of performance.

Last Monday at Rio’s runs the last Monday of every month at The Rio Cafe – open to all, free entry.

The High Flight Fanzine

Pressed and passed out after a crowd-sourcing campaign and two successful fundraising nights, issue one of The High Flight Fanzine was released in August. The fundraising nights, of which there are more to come, involved poets and musicians performing in support of the publishing and distribution of art at no cost to the audience – a feat which has been accomplished, with monthly issues planned for the next year.

The High Flight Fanzine is published on the 15th each month, submissions are open until the 1st each the month.

Make Things Seen

An atmospheric one-off night in the dark basement of the Berkeley Suite showing the talents of candid, occasionally comical and consistently compelling performers. The show gave a taste of the less energetic, but in no way less engaging side of the art. Such a night would be welcomed back with open arms.

I wanted to write a digest of this summer to demonstrate the depth and breadth of a scene for which Glasgow can feel a great deal of pride as a city. Poetry and performance, storytelling and spoken word are all seeing an exuberant and exponential increase in interest. Glasgow is seeing the emergence of some phenomenal performers, from home and abroad, and a loyal supportive audience. It really is a great time to be getting yourself along to the plethora of shows this city has to offer. If you’re an aspiring performer, a writer, an enthusiast, or maybe you just have a vague inclination that it might be better than sitting in front of the tv – again – I would implore you: find a show and head down. You won’t regret it!


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