Spoken Word | Apples and Snakes: Blackbox | Makhanda by Thembe Mvula

Thembe Mvula is a South African born writer and performance poet currently based in London. Her work has been described as “having a profound ability to allow readers and listeners to exist in different places at the same time” (Bridget Minamore). Thembe has headlined nationally and internationally, including at the Tate Modern, Oslo Afro Arts festival and has featured at Latitude festival. Her TEDx talk has been translated into different languages including Mandarin and Cantonese .

In 2017 Thembe was a finalist in The Roundhouse poetry slam competition. She was a member of The Roundhouse poetry collective in 2018-19 and is currently a Barbican Young Poet. Her prize shortlisted debut poetry pamphlet, We that Wither Beneath, was self published in March 2019.

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Apples and Snakes | Spoken Word Trailblazers
Apples and Snakes are England’s leading spoken word organisation. We exist to champion poets and poetry in performance, amplify unheard voices and challenge expectations of what poetry is and can be.

Brief history of spoken word | performance poetry
Throughout history and across all cultures stories have been told to entertain and connect communities.

Since the mid 20th century a powerful new performance style has spread across the world: the spoken word poetry movement

Performance poetry or spoken word emerged from the jazz poetry of the 1920s and subsequent experiments of The Beat Generation writers. In the late 50s beat poetry found its way to the UK.

In the 1960s spoken word embraced its role as a popular voice for counterculture
both in the US and the UK. During the US Civil Rights Movement poetry
provided a powerful format for protest and artistic expression.

During the 60s and 70s political black poetry laid the foundations of hip-hop in the US whilst the UK’s ranting poets captured the anti-establishment feelings of punk.

In 1982 Apples and Snakes was founded in the upstairs room of a London pub.
Soon after in 1984 the first poetry slam took place in Chicago.

As it developed spoken word became a melting pot of influences from other art forms. Dub poetry grew out of the lyrical performance style of toasting, the Jamaican reggae scene of the 1960’s.

Comedy poetry became a common feature of the cabaret scene and
during the 90s spoken word artists started writing solo poetry shows.

MC battles captured a popular consciousness and slams spread across the world. In the late 2000s poets began to get thousands then millions of views online inspiring more and more people and taking poetry into your front room

Currently spoken word poets around the world are headlining festivals
going viral and keeping the activist tradition alive.

The future? Poems in space? Poet robots? Poems on the ocean floor?

Make some noise, speak your truth, you are the poet.

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