The Last Word Festival 2023 returns for its 10th year at the The Roundhouse

The highly anticipated The Last Word Festival is back celebrating ten colourful years offering an enthralling lineup of narratives and viewpoints presented by some of the most essential voices from across the UK.  As always, the beloved and renowned Roundhouse Poetry Slam will be commencing a nationwide search for the UK’s next young, pioneering spoken-word performers. Applications are available for individuals aged 18 to 25 to compete for a cash prize and the coveted title of Slam Champion.

To coincide with the launch of their much-anticipated debut album, Speakers Corner Quartet perform on the main stage with very special guests and Apples and Snakes celebrate their 40th Anniversary as the UK’s leading supporter of spoken word poetry with a takeover event.

In the Studio Theatre, Kayo Chingonyi will be hosting his new collection of poetry, ‘More Fiya: A Celebration of Black British Poetry’ published by Canongate BooksVERSES will be bringing their unpredictable, heartfelt and hilarious spoken-word night to the festival. Hear from two of the most exciting young changemakers in the game – award-winning PoetSophia Thakur and #Merky Books Editor, Lemara Lindsay-Prince will be joining the programme for a very special conversation. Scottish Poet Ellen Renton will showcase ‘Within Sight’, her debut solo performance and Cave Live Lounge will be presenting some of London’s most soulful and exciting Muslim artists.

There will be a sharing from the Roundhouse Poetry Collective hosted by poet, playwright, novelist Cecilia Knapp. Poet and musician James Massiah will be bringing his Adult Entertainment series to the festival and the debut of a live podcast series by Lyrix Organix features an interview with Jordan Stephens (Rizzle Kicks) in an evening that brings a rare and intimate mix of candid conversation and curated music.  Roundhouse Rising is proud to present the exquisite West Yorkshire born, Emmeline who has worked with the esteemed Fraser T. Smith (Kano, Stormzy, Dave, Ghetts) and garnered support from The Guardian, Clash, The Line Of Best Fit and more.

Ezra England will be presenting their dark comedy, NUCLEAR CHILDREN and the winner of The Roundhouse Poetry Slam 2021, the extraordinary Maureen Onwunali will be celebrating the launch of their first published zine at The Last Word 2023. Join the winner of the 2020 Roundhouse Slam Elliot Waloschek, who will perform his debut spoken word show waterlog. Catch the iconic South London collective and absorb rapper, songwriter and raconteur, Dizraeli’s performance of his first book ‘Animal Noises’.

Sonic Transmissions will be hosting an immersive session featuring FACEOSUL combining conversation, live performance and collective listening. The Roundhouse Film Fund Screenings will be showcasing innovative, bold films, and podcast platform,  Transmission Roundhouse will take over the Roundhouse Bar and Cafe; over two days The Last Word FM will be the hub for the festival, welcoming a range of guests and hosts.

Returning to The Last Word Festival will be the prestigious Roundhouse Poetry Slam Final – the most anticipated event of the festival. First hitting the stage in 2006 and becoming the heart of the festival in 2013. With artists previously going head-to-head in six days of national heats, now they will put their original work to the test and, whether you are joining in person at the iconic Roundhouse or tuning in live at home – the audience will get to cast their vote and crown the audience winner.

For the first time, the Roundhouse has a trailblazing new partnership with international law firm Taylor Wessing. A well-known supporter of the arts, and with the Roundhouse specifically over the past few years, Taylor Wessing has now joined as the principal partner and kicks off a new five-year partnership with its support of the Roundhouse Poetry Slam.

Applications are open now to enter the Roundhouse Poetry Slam! Heats will take place nationwide in Liverpool, Cardiff, Glasgow and London culminating in the final on the Roundhouse main stage. Previous finalists such as Caleb Femi, Zia Ahmed and Suhaiymah Manzoor-Khan are now making names for themselves, this is a career-launching event and an exhilarating night not to be missed. Entries will be open from 22nd  – 25th May applicants must be 18-25. Click here to apply.

Jack Prideaux, Senior Producer at the Roundhouse says:
“This year marks 10 years of The Last Word Festival and we’re excited to present a lineup that reflects the festival’s original focus on poetry and spoken word through to its identity, a decade on, as a celebration of words; their power, vitality and a means to share ideas.

Taking in podcasts, music, film, theatre, book launches, poetry and conversation, this year’s festival is the most ambitious to date, featuring internationally renowned artists alongside emerging voices and venturing beyond the walls of the Roundhouse to host heats for our prestigious Poetry Slam across the UK.

We hope audiences will enjoy work that speaks to the world we live in but also take the opportunity be part of the conversation.”

Talking about the event, Apples and Snakes Artistic Director, Lisa Mead proudly says: “Apples and Snakes started in 1982 in The Adam’s Arms pub, so it’s really exciting to be taking over the Roundhouse for the day as part of our 40th anniversary year celebrations and mark how far we’ve come in the past four decades. 

With TAKEOVER we’re aiming for a chilled festival, a 60’s, happening vibe. We’re always keen to push people’s idea of what poetry can be, this will be a chance to see all sorts of poets – new and more recognisable – spaces to write something yourself if you want to, and it will culminate in an epic, eclectic line-up with a couple of surprises thrown in! We want this to be an iconic moment in the history of spoken word poetry in the UK and you should come!”


Roundhouse Poetry Slam Heats
Heat 1: Monday 22 May, 7:30pm, Studio Theatre (The Roundhouse)
Heat 2: Tuesday 23 May, 7:30pm, Studio Theatre (The Roundhouse)
Heat 3, Wednesday, 24 May, 7:30pm, Studio Theatre (The Roundhouse)
Heat 4, Thursday, 25 May, 7:30pm, (Online via Zoom)

Roundhouse Poetry Slam Final
Thursday, 1st June, Main Space

waterlog by Elliot Waloschek 
Thursday, 1st June, Studio Theatre

Speakers Corner Quartet & Friends 
Friday, 2nd June, Main Space

Animal Noises by Dizraeli
Friday, 2nd June, Studio Theatre

Apples & Snakes Takeover: Celebrating 40 years of poetry with bite
Saturday, 3 June, Main Space

Roundhouse Poetry Collective
Tuesday, 6 June, Studio Theatre

Skin Deep presents Sonic Transmissions: FACESOUL
Wednesday, 7 June, Studio Theatre

Roundhouse Film Fund Screenings
Thursday, 8 June, Studio Theatre

Transmission Roundhouse in Roundhouse Bar & Cafe
Fri 9 – Sat 10 June

Within Sight by Ellen Renton 
Friday, 9 June, Studio Theatre

Cave Live Lounge 
Saturday, 10 June, Studio Theatre

More Fiya: A Celebration of Black British Poetry, Hosted by Kayo Chingonyi    
Monday, 12 June, Studio Theatre

Tuesday, 13 June, Studio Theatre

Self Made Live: Sophia Thakur and Lemara Lindsay-Prince (#Merky Books) In Conversation
Wednesday, 14 June, Studio Theatre

FEM ZINE x Maureen Onwunali Launch Party
Wednesday, 14 June, Restaurant Bar & Cafe

Roundhouse Rising Presents Emmeline
Thursday, 15 June, Studio Theatre

Adult Education and Adult Entertainment x James Massiah
Friday, 16 June, Studio Theatre (2-part event)

Jordan Stephens x Lyrix Organix: Desert Island Dubplates
Saturday, 17 June, Studio Theatre

Nuclear Children by Ezra England
Sunday, 18 June, Studio Theatre

This and so much more, for information and tickets see details below and please have a look here.

Written by Theatrefullstop