Since we’ve become a City of Literature there seems to be a new spoken word event popping up every week. But we’re really excited about Crossroads, not least because it takes place in the the Malt Cross, a Grade 11 listed building in Nottingham with a Victorian Music Hall. Organiser Leanne Moden explains more…
Crosswords is a new spoken word open mic night, which was established in Nottingham in December 2015. Host and organiser Leanne Moden founded Crosswords after taking a heritage tour around the Malt Cross pub, where she fell in the love with the sandstone caves underneath the building. This spooky subterranean venue now plays host to Crosswords shows every second Wednesday of the month, and it’s probably the quirkiest poetry night in town!
Leanne says “After moving to Nottingham in the summer of last year, I was looking for the opportunity to set up a new event, having loved hosting Fen Speak, the spoken word night I ran in Cambridgeshire. I wanted to recapture the sense of community that I’d found working as a compere on the open mic scene, and I also wanted a chance to showcase all the talented performers I have met since I started working as a poet in 2010.
“Part of the reason for wanting to start my own night was purely selfish – it’s a brilliant way to make new friends in a new city! And, if I’m honest, having access to such an amazing venue is also a big part of the appeal. The caves are fantastic, and I think this unusual venue has really shaped the personality of Crosswords. There’s a weird sort of womb-like quality to the space, and that seems to make our audience even more open and supportive of all our performers. The vibe is relaxed and welcoming, and I think that’s why people enjoy coming along.”
As well as a range of spoken word open mic slots, Crosswords also promotes local talent, with a ‘featured performer’ appearing at each event.
“It’s really important to champion local talent,” says Leanne, “and there are loads of amazing spoken word artists in the East Midlands at the moment, so it’s a really exciting time to be a promoter. We’ve had some incredible talent on the stage so far this year, and we’ve got a great line-up planned for the rest of 2016.
“We’re also massively grateful to the Malt Cross, who have been so incredibly supportive. Their commitment to the Arts is completely phenomenal, and we really appreciate all they do to support these events.”
The next Crosswords open mic is happening on Wednesday 11th May, with a featured set from Leicester-based poet Shruti Chauhan! Shruti has performed across the UK and around the world, including events at the Royal Albert Hall, and the US Embassy’s American Centre in New Delhi. She also toured ‘Three the Hard Way – Part 2’ nationally with Jean Binta Breeze MBE and Lydia Towsey. She’s a Breakthrough Artist at Curve Theatre, Leicester, and is currently writing her first solo show.
Lydia Towsey was also a big part of Dawn of the Unread, coordinating a Leicester version of the comic in collaboration with Bright Sparks and the NHS called The Writings On The Wall. Lydia was also the host in a game of MasterBwainz at the 2015 Festival of Words, when dead writers were brought back from the grave and quizzed about their literary lives. Masterbwainz was an attempt to play around with the form of a spoken word event to find new ways to engage people with reading. Although there won’t be any bwain eating at Crosswords, you can enjoy my Zombie Love Song above to get you in the mood for our next event…
Arrive at the Malt Cross (St James Street, Nottingham, NG1 6FG) at 7:30pm on the night to book your five-minute open mic slot. The team love hearing poetry, prose, storytelling, a cappella singing, and monologues. Or you can just come along to listen – everyone’s welcome! Entry is £2 per person and refreshments are available.
For more information, check out the facebook group
Dawn of the Unread is a graphic novel celebrating Nottingham’s literary history. It was created to support libraries and bookshops. It began life online and won the Teaching Excellence Award at the Guardian Education Awards in 2015 and has since been published by Spokesman Books (2017). All profits go towards UNESCO Nottingham City of Literature.