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Leaflet for the first leg of the World Championship of the Universe clash between UK Champions Farrago, London, and Asheville, the US National Champions, in 1996.



Farrago Poetry:
the UK’s Poetry SLAM! Pioneers

Farrago Poetry is a spoken word and performance poetry organisation based in London. We run a range of different events, from Spanish language poetry nights to events for elders, but we are best known for pioneering slam poetry in the UK and for our links to the International performance poetry scene.

Farrago Poetry originally introduced SLAM! an open mic poetry competition format, to Britain from America on 19th February 1994. The same year Farrago organised the first National Championship in Europe, The Farrago UK SLAM! Championships, at the Deptford Albany, followed by events at the Camden People's Theatre, 1995, Chats Palace, 1996, Post Office Theatre, 1997/98 & the Tabernacle, 1999 and Kensington Central Library, 2000 to the present. The events have featured teams and poets from Bristol to Ipswich to Liverpool to Edinburgh and Cardiff. The Farrago London SLAM! Championships, is the longest slam competition running in Europe and takes place during the annual Farrago Festival of Spoken Word.

Above: a poster from the 1994 Farrago slam season.

Farragoalso has a long history of touring and hosting visiting poets, poetry ensembles and slam teams. We took part in the first International slam event when our London team took on San Francisco in the US in 1995, as part of one of three tours all over the United States. In 1996 we organised a two leg, home and away slam event against Asheville, who were at the time the reigning US National Slam champions. Farrago’s John Paul O'Neill is London’s slam master, having attended the International Slam Masters convention in 1996 and becoming the first Briton to compete in the US Nationals, the largest English performance poetry event/competition in the world in 1996.

The London Farrago Showcase and Slam is held at the Poetry Place/Poetry Society headquarters in Covent Garden, monthly. There are also regular events and a festival run in partnership with the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea Libraries and Art Service. Our Elders’ programme of poetry events for people over 60 won a London Arts Tender bid in 2002 and currently runs monthly.

Since 1992 Farrago has run shows all over the U.K. in venues and at events including Hastings Pier, The Vortex, the I.C.A. and the Bradford, Brighton Alternative and Glastonbury Festivals & been featured on Carlton T.V, B.B.C. Radio 4 & 5, G.L.R & Radio London, Three Counties, The World Service, Kiss 100 & Channel One Cable T.V., as well as in many publications including Time Out and the Sunday Times. Starting in 2008 Farrago was heard on OpenAir Radio (, streaming poetry to the world on the Words show.

Farrago has set up and run performance events and workshops for a broad range of clients including Bromley, East Sussex, Enfield and Luton Library Services, The Forest Arts Centre, West Norwood School, Kensington and Chelsea Libraries & Arts Service and Harrow Black History Month.

Guests for our nights have come from every part of the poetry and writing community, over the last few years we’ve featured novelists Joe Ambrose, Ferdinand Dennis, Courttia Newland & Zadie Smith, poetry pioneers Bob Cobbing and Michael Horovitz, top US poets Aqiyl, Breeze, Patricia Johnson, (the US National Slam Champion), Los Angeles poets Jeff McDaniel, Joseph Hernandez Kolski and Monica Lee Copeland and New Yorkers including Ainsley Burrows, Suheir Hammad & Taylor Mali, alongside a whole host of London and visiting UK poets including Patience Agbabi, Charlie Dark, Zena Edwards, Floetry, Kathleen Jamie, Mimi Khalvati, Aoife Mannix, Rebecca Sabine, Nick Toczek and Elizabeth Uter. Other International guests have included Segun Akinlolu, Jill Batson, Caroline Ndretitu and Bohdan Piasecki, who founded the Warsaw Slam! after coming to one of our shows.

Farrago Poetry, 108, High Street, West Wickham, Kent, BR4 OND.

Telephone: 07905 078376. E-mail: