A new book, edited by Dr Jack McGowan and Dr Lucy English, Spoken Word in the UK is a comprehensive and in-depth introduction to spoken word performance in the UK – its origins and development, its performers and audiences, and the vast array of different styles and characteristics that make it unique.
Dr Jack McGowan’s research focuses on contemporary poetry and poetics, and he specializes in the development of performance poetry in the UK since the mid-20th century, and the oral roots of poetry. Jack is a performance poet with 10 years of experience on the UK spoken word scene and he writes for both performance and page publication. His writing examines contemporary themes of alienation and fragmentation, unpicks the vicissitudes of 21st-century life, and shines a diminishing light on 90s pop culture.
Drawing together a wide range of authors including scholars, critics, and practitioners, each chapter gives a new perspective on performance poetics. The six sections of the book cover the essential elements of understanding the form and discuss how this key aspect of contemporary performance can be analysed stylistically, how its development fits into the context of performance in the UK, the ways in which its performers reach and engage with their audiences, and its place in the education system. Each chapter is a case study of one key aspect, example, or context of spoken word performance, combining to make the most wide-ranging account of this form of performance currently available.
This is a crucial and ground-breaking companion for those studying or teaching spoken word performance, as well as scholars and researchers across the fields of theatre and performance studies, literary studies, and cultural studies.
Dr Jack McGowan is Course Leader for Creative Writing BA (Hons) and a Senior Lecturer in the English, Media and Culture Department at the University of Worcester. He coached the University of Worcester’s Slam team who competed at UniSlam2019; one of the UK’s largest Poetry Slams @UniSlam