Spoken word is all about having a voice

At Lingo, we believe there is something brave about being this kind of poet –an artist alone, in front of a crowd, offering their contribution from the contents of their memory. There is no lectern, notes, or marked pages. It is a bare communion between artist and audience.

Spoken word is a constantly evolving thing in Ireland. With that evolution comes an evergrowing community. From warehouses lit by candles to bars to basements to slick official openings to rallies to poets shouting their piece knee-deep in festival mud – the options are always changing, renewing, and offering new opportunities for words to rise.

Lingo – created by members of that community – seeks to lift up and honour those voices, that current of energy that keeps this art form thriving in Ireland. We talk about spoken word as a new trend here, but there’s nothing new about it. Spoken word is the poetic form at its earliest, and it continues to exist outside the realm of the salon or the library. When football fans chant at matches, they chant in rhyme. When people offer consolation, congratulation, or wisdom, they recite. We turn poems into songs and carry them in us as part of a national identity.

Spoken word is all about having a voice. This year we decided to ask: What are we using it for? We wanted to look more closely at what voice can mean for the world more broadly. How can art – specifically, this kind of art– be used for transformation? When campaigners shout in protests, they shout in rhyme. We wanted to explore what role spoken word has to play. How can we amplify voices calling for change? What should they say? YOUR VOICE!

What Lingo hopes to offer you is a chance to experience the brilliance of Irish spoken word, and that you’ll come away inspired. We are featuring spoken word artists from around the world –luminaries from the United States, United Kingdom, beyond, alongside some of the most talented Irish spoken word poets breathing air. From American legend Sage Francis to Palestinian star Rafeef Ziadah, to Blind Boy and Panti Bliss, to Sarah Clancy, our Poet Laureate, to All-Ireland Poetry Slam Champions, from hip-hop to charity events to workshops to youth programmes and world premieres of new work: we have something for everyone. We’ve collaborated with some of the leading event creators around Ireland to curate new formats for poetry over the course of the festival.

Over and over throughout the weekend, we will be exploring how art can be used to affect change. The talent of artists in Ireland continues to be an enduring national resource.

The Lingo Team