Posters from the archive by Bryan Biggs - Poetry and Spoken Word Events

Date posted

02 June 2020

This week’s posters, selected by our Artistic Director Bryan Biggs, feature poetry and spoken word events at Bluecoat. There is an emphasis on spoken word’s interaction with music, and the artists represent a wide generational range, from established names to emerging talent. Performances at this time took place in the Concert Hall which is where the current Bistro upstairs is located.

Together, the posters offer a snapshot of live literature at the arts centre in the 1980s and 1990s and are among relatively few pieces of live programme publicity print to have survived, in contrast to our gallery posters and season brochures.

In terms of design there is very little by way of a consistent ‘house style’ (apart from the Bluecoat logo in the 1990s), and some are simply assembled, or even hand-lettered.

Adrian Henri music and poetry event, 1987

Starting with an exhibition of paintings in 1959, Henri had a long relationship with Bluecoat - as artist, critic, live art performer, and poet. This poster advertises an evening of his poems set to music and him performing, accompanied by long-time collaborator, guitarist Andy Roberts.

Joolz poetry event, 1988

The logo on the classical column suggests this was a Festival of Comedy event, featuring the ‘Joan Rivers of Post-Punk’. Joolz was one of a generation of artists who emerged in the wake of incendiary spoken word punk, ignited by John Cooper Clarke.

Linton Kwesi Johnson, 1997

Dub poet Linton Kwesi Johnson did a reading (without musical accompaniment) in the Concert Hall upstairs, his pioneering reggae verse retaining its power two decades on from his first recordings on the Island record label.

Jazz Poetry Conversation, 1998

This event launched our Bluecoat Verbals programme of poetry, literature and spoken word in 1998. It featured local artists Khalil and Tafari together with Nurridin, from New York’s Last Poets, who are credited with laying down the foundations of hip hop.

Atomic Lip, 1998

A collaboration with local promoters Dead Good Poets Society, Atomic Lip came to Liverpool as a touring programme of new spoken word, in which Agbabi made her Bluecoat debut.

Dinesh Allirajah, A Manner of Speaking, 2004

Poster for the launch of this new volume of short stories and poems by Allirajah, who was also performance programmer at Bluecoat, where he promoted much diverse literature, music and performance, including some of the events listed above.