YORK'S home of performance poetry since 2014, Say Owt, is promising its most ambitious programme of events yet.

"Thanks to funding from Arts Council England, we have something for everyone this year," says artistic director Henry Raby, who runs Say Owt! with associate artists Stu Freestone, Dave Jarman and Hannah Davies.

"We kick off 2019 with a favourite of the scene, Say Owt Slam #21, a poetry slam where poets have three minutes to impress the audience and win a cash prize. It’s energetic, fun and rewrites the poetry rulebook."

This 7.30pm Slam on February 15 at The Basement, City Screen, will feature two guests, the sparky Jemima Foxtrot and heartfelt Ciarán Hodgers, the 2015 International Pangaea Poetry Slam Champion. Tickets cost £6 at picturehouses.com/cinema/York_Picturehouse or £7 on the door.

For International Women’s Day on March 8, Say Owt has invited Sheffield arts collective Verse Matters to run a celebratory open-mic night at the Micklegate Social. The following day, Say Owt will team up with Al Greaves's Burning Duck Comedy Club for Rob Auton’s The Talk Show. Originally from York, Auton will perform his seventh stage show, a combination of poetry, theatre and stand-up comedy all about talking.

Say Owt is proud to be working with York Literature Festival to bring Newcastle poet Rowan McCabe to York on March 16 at Young Thugs Records’ new space, The Hovel, at South Bank Social Club. "Rowan is presenting his show Door-To-Door Poetry, all about his adventures going street-to-street, door-to-door, writing poetry for people," says Henry.

"Onwards into the year, if you’re interested to see poets fusing music with words, Genevieve Carver is working with folk band The Unsung at the Fulford Arms on April 11 with a show all about women and non-binary people in the music business."

"Jess Green, the 2018 BBC Slam Champion, will bring her show and full band, The Mischief Thieves, to The Crescent community venue on May 2. "Jess's show, The Self-Help Guide To Being In Love With Jeremy Corbyn, is an intelligent and hard-hitting show about austerity, Tories, Labour, being on the Left," says Henry. "It’s an important and relevant night for anyone trying to make sense of the convoluted world of politics."

Another Say Owt Slam is lined up for later in the year with Inua Ellams on May 18 in The Basement, along with a return to The Crescent for a headline set from Hollie McNish on June 20.

"There are many other ways of getting involved with Say Owt, with writing workshops from associate artist Hannah Davies and free events to share work and learn new skills," says Henry. "Say Owt wants as many people as possible to get involved in writing and poetry, because everyone can be a writer and everyone will fall in love with these story-tellers.

"We're hugely proud of our diverse line-up, but also excited to welcome new and old audiences to our gigs. Whether you’re new to spoken word, or a veteran, everyone is welcome. It’s an exciting time to see the blossoming scene! If you’re New Year’s Resolution is to be more creative, come check us out."

Associate artist Stu Freestone adds: "Catch these poets before the scene explodes and they become mega stars."

Charles Hutchinson