There is a serious lack of high-quality, accessible information (i.e. statistics, interviews, scholarship) pertaining to contemporary spoken word poetry in the UK, due in part to the field being relatively new and in part to its often grassroots nature and thus the lack of sustained institutional and/or commercial funding. Because of this gap in the research, I realised early in my PhD that I would need to collect my own primary data.
In early 2017 I received ethics approval from the University of Strathclyde to conduct a large-scale series of oral history methodology interviews with figures in the spoken word scene across the UK. I conducted 70 face-to-face interviews from May-November 2017 with spoken word artists, producers, and event organisers in all four countries of the UK. These interviews averaged an hour and half, for a total of over 100 hours of audio.
These audio interviews and their transcripts will be soon archived at the Scottish Oral History Centre in Glasgow, where they will be fully accessible to the public (except in cases where the interviewee wishes more limited access). Because I was aware that these interviews would be a public resource, I asked interviewees not only the questions that directly addressed my research questions but also those that I predicted would be helpful for researchers in the future (such as general queries regarding the history and demographics of interviewee’s local scenes). It is my hope that this archive will be a useful resource not only for other researchers interested in this field now and in the future, but for spoken word artists and organisers themselves curious about their peers’ perspectives on their craft.
As of early 2023 I am working with the Scottish Oral History Centre to establish this archive. I will update this page and post as soon as the archive becomes public.