13th April 2018
Poetry & Lyrics Festival announces its eagerly anticipated June 2018 line up including BBC Radio 6 Music DJ Cerys Matthew & Savages frontwoman Jehnny Beth

Poetry & Lyrics is an annual festival (8 – 9 June 2018) curated and produced by Poet in the City, a national arts charity that brings poetry to life beyond books, producing classic and contemporary poetry performances taking on major ideas, issues and people. The festival is celebrating its third year with an exciting line-up of artists and performers and a new theme of ‘Legacy and Subculture’.

Taking over Kings Place for two days, the festival will bring together lovers of music and poetry alike for an eclectic programme of live music, talks, workshops and readings for audiences of all ages. For the 2018 edition, alongside established artists and performers, Poet in the City have commissioned an array of talent to take over the Platforms stage for sets open to the public, and confirmed the addition of two explosive late-night offerings.

“We are thrilled to introduce year three of our Poetry & Lyrics festival. Every year we bring together lovers of all different styles of music and poetry and I always find it incredibly exciting to see crowds spanning classical to folk and hip-hop all rubbing shoulders. This year is as eclectic as ever with the likes of Cerys Matthews, Jehnny Beth, Anthony Joseph and Richard Scott all under one lyrical roof. For the first time we’ll also be hosting parties with new hip-hop poetry commissions and a celebration of the poetry of nightlife, as well as increasing our offer to families. Here’s to the mix!”

– Isobel Colchester, CEO of Poet in the City


The 2018 headliners are united in their talent and commitment to authenticity, celebrating the ability of music and poetry to capture and convey a particular moment in history.

Continuing her long-standing involvement with the festival, award-winning musician and BBC 6 Music DJ Cerys Matthews returns this year on Friday to present an evening exploring blues music. With a host of special guests, audiences can expect dinner-table-worthy tales and spell-binding performances.

BBC Radio 4’s John Wilson also returns to the festival to curate a show, and on Saturday will be joined in conversation with Jehnny Beth, singer, songwriter, radio host and Savages frontwoman, who took to the Brits stage this year with Damon Albarn and Gorillaz. In addition to her musical credentials, Jehnny collaborates widely to create dialogues with other art forms.

British soprano Claire Booth will bring her vitality and musicianship to Aaron Copland’s jewel-like song cycle Twelve Poems of Emily Dickinson, settings of some of the poet’s most tender and rhythmic poetry, and will be accompanied by Grammy award-winning pianist and accompanist Christopher Glynn. The two artists reunite after their critically-acclaimed recording of Percy Grainger’s folk music last year on Avie Records.

After Hours

New to the 2018 festival is a late-night line-up of boundary-pushing performances creating an electric party vibe and paying homage to London’s nightlife. Gone are the seats of Hall Two – this is standing room only.

Critically-acclaimed band Benin City will be performing their new album Last Night on 8th June, fresh from the stage of SXSW in Austin, Texas. The performance, produced by cross-artform theatre company nabokov, is a radical spoken word and music experience charting the evolution and decline of London’s nightlife. The audience will recognise many of their own London experiences as they hear from a cast of characters in a rhythmic, brass-flavoured snapshot of the city’s fading party scene.

Setting the scene for a Saturday night, Poet in the City present The College Dropout R.A.P party, a hip-hop fuelled rhythm and poetry party curated by acclaimed poets Inua Ellams and Theresa Lola, featuring 13 brand new commissions inspired by Kanye West’s iconic album The College Dropout. Expect a night equal parts boogie and brilliance, with sets from DJ Sid Mercutio and sizzling new words from a specially
assembled playlist of powerhouse poets.

Something for Everyone

The 2018 festival has an even greater offering of emerging talent, diverse genre performances and family events, with the full programme celebrating the diffusion of legacy throughout a new generation of artists and audiences. Leading the line-up of events for a younger audience is Michael De Souza, otherwise known as everyone’s favourite crime bustin’, reggae lovin’ Rastamouse, who will be sharing classic stories from his hit children’s book and TV series before being joined by ‘Lil’ Bruv’ – a rapper turned poet. In an interactive show for the whole family, the two will embark on an adventure exploring the twists and turns of rhythm and rhyme.

Also performing is poet Kate Wakeling, who will take her audience on a super-sonic treasure hunt to find the secret music that fizzes through poetry in an interactive workshop for the whole family.

Further performances will come from London poet Richard Scott, who will be reading from his debut Faber collection Soho; and poet, musician and lecturer on Trinidadian culture Anthony Joseph with long time collaborator Jason Yarde. Up and coming artists performing in the foyer stage as part of a free series include underground soul singer Nãnci Correia and singer songwriter Daudi Matsiko.

After a sell-out event last year with ‘Still I Rise’, the Poet in the City Producers, a group of talented 16-25 year olds shaping the future of live poetry are back to explore the theme of community cohesion, inspired by voices from Islington.

For further information about the Festival programme, click here.

Image Credits:  Inua Ellams, Theresa Lola, DJ Sid, College Dropout R.A.P Party © Alex Lake, Courtesy of Poetry & Lyrics Festival