Spine Festival: Bringing poetry to South London’s libraries

Spine Festival is back for another year with spoken word and arts events for children and families set up across London.

The festival is free and features poets in residence who have been specially commissioned to develop creative writing workshops in 16 libraries from March 21, until April 21.

Libraries in Lewisham, Southwark, Bromley and Wandsworth will be taking part in the festival, hosting performances across the next month.

Each poet has been selected to create three relatable and fun creative writing workshops for their community’s children, exploring the themes of magic and imagination. 

Children aged between seven and 11 are encouraged to participate and share what they have created during the workshop. 

Justin Coe will be Lewisham’s poet in residence for the Spine Festival 2024 (Picture: Suzi Corker, suzicorker.com)

Artists local to the libraries will also deliver public performances and events for children aged between 0 and 11 throughout the festival month.

The Lewisham Library poet in Residence is Justin Coe, a spoken word theatre creator, who specialises in work for young audiences. He will host workshops in Downham Library, Moorside Road, Bromley on April 4.

He is the author of The Dictionary of Dads and The Magic of Mums and the writer of more than a dozen family shows, including  The House That Jackson Built – a play inspired by his love of libraries. 

For more than twenty-five years, Justin has shared his heartfelt humour and passion for poetry in hundreds of schools and libraries, and has entertained and educated people everywhere, from Sheppey to Shanghai.

Eileen Gbagbo, Bromley’s poet in residence for Spine Festival 2024 (Picture: Suzi Corker, suzicorker.com)

Also included in the festival will be Eileen Gbagbo. The spoken word artist and playwright will perform as the poet in residence at Biggin Hill Library in Church Road, Biggin Hill, on April 10.

Eileen took part in Joseph Coelho’s Diversifying Children’s literature program and also performed as part of last years Spine festival. 

Spine Festival is produced by spoken word poetry organisation,  Apples and Snakes, in partnership with library authorities and funded by Arts Council England.

Lisa Mead, artistic director of Apples and Snakes said: “Libraries are magical places where you can let your imagination run wild.

“We are delighted that 16 top poets are in residence, offering opportunities for children and families to have fun with words, all for free! We hope you come and join us!”

To find out full details and dates of libraries hosting events as part of the Spine Festival visit https://applesandsnakes.org/project/spine/

Pictured top: Artists in residency for the Spine Festival 2024 (Picture: Suzi Corker, suzicorker.com)

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