Spoken Word in the Secret Garden at The Reader in Liverpool

Sarah-Clare Conlon, Literature Editor
Janaya Pickett
Writer Janaya Pickett.

Spoken Word in the Secret Garden at The Mansion House Calderstones Park, Liverpool 17 June 2021 Tickets from £10 — Book now

The Reader’s Spoken Word evenings at the Mansion House are back, but for now they’ll be venturing outdoors into the Secret Garden at Calderstones on the third Thursday of the month. Following their initial alfresco event with Sophie Clarke in May, this second Secret Garden Spoken Word, on Thursday 17 June, will see Saint Vespaluus curate a line-up of four performers: October Wright, Janaya Pickett, Gerry Potter and Dave Wiggins.

Literature and reading organisation The Reader run a regular programme of events and activities – including the weekly Poetry Walk – at their recently renovated Grade II-listed home in South Liverpool’s Calderstones Park. Their Spoken Word events encompass “a huge variety of writing and performance styles, from the intimately personal and heart-breaking to the uproariously funny and celebratory”. Think poetry, prose, memoirs, stories, monologues and more…

This second Secret Garden Spoken Word, on Thursday 17 June, will see Saint Vespaluus curate a line-up of four performers: October Wright, Janaya Pickett, Gerry Potter and Dave Wiggins.

Described as a “charismatic performer”, October Wright studies writing as part of her degree in Liverpool and has performed in various venues around the city, although this will be her first time at The Reader. Originally from West London, she recently spent a year writing and studying in San Francisco, attending legendary Beat poet Allen Ginsberg’s poetry and meditation course. Writing both poetry and prose “with heart and precision”, her work examines the subjects of womanhood, cultural identity and fractured family relationships, and has been published in numerous publications.

Liverpool-born Janaya Pickett has written and performed poetry widely throughout the city, and has written reviews and features on music and culture for local publications Getintothis and Bido Lito. A history enthusiast with a special interest in Liverpool’s Black history and culture, Janaya appeared in David Olusoga’s BBC series Black and British and hosted a documentary about the 1919 riots for Liverpool’s Writing On The Wall (in collaboration with Liverpool University, the Arts and Humanities Research Council and the Centre for Hidden Histories). She also helped to set up the Great War To Race Riots walking tours to publicise Liverpool’s racial history and she is currently working with arts organisation BlackFest, managing their research project on the Black origins of house music.

Gerry Potter is a poet, playwright, director, actor and creator (and destroyer) of alterego Chloe Poems. “A favourite son of Manchester and his home town Liverpool”, he trained at Everyman Youth Theatre. National Museums Liverpool lists him among the city’s leading LGBTQ+ icons and the portrait documentary My Name Is Gerry Potter premiered at Homotopia in 2015. His published works are included in both the poetry and philosophy collections at Harvard University, and he says: “Eight books in to his ten book magnum opus, Gerry’s thinking long and hard about his ninth.” Gerry has a reputation for putting his Scouse voice to both descriptive and explosive effect.

Making his live reading debut at this Secret Garden Spoken Word, Dave Wiggins is a retired public servant, who, as Wiggo, cites the writing of Vaudeville performer Frank Richards, Jackie magazine and the collected works of Enid Blyton as being big influences on his work. Literature has long been close to his heart, and, he says: “linguistic precision is a must – lazy ‘fillers’, tired clichés or unnecessary swear words are not to be tolerated!” He edits These Don’t Wanna Know, an “offbeat Twitter look at grassroots and non-league football in Liverpool”, and he also fronts punk and new-wave covers band Invisible Heroes.

Hosting the evening is Saint Vespaluus (aka Stephen Porter), who returned to the spoken word scene at the Everyman Theatre fairly recently, after first performing in Cambridge in the 1980s. Described as “a passionate and dynamic performer, his poems and tales mix humour and sadness to startling effect”, he’s performed at at Violette Records’ Turn Your Love Around festival and he’ll be performing at Liverpool’s Come Together and Sound City festivals in 2021. His first solo show is chalked up for 19 October at Jimmy’s in Liverpool city centre. Probably best known for his column in cult fanzine When Skies Are Grey, Saint Vespaluus has written for Esquire and a host of other publications over the years, and he is currently compiling the first volume of his collected writings.

As this is an outdoor event, be prepared for inclement weather and wrap up warm. The Secret Garden is wheelchair accessible, with picnic bench seating – for access enquiries please email tickets@thereader.org.uk.

Spoken Word in the Secret Garden at The Mansion House Calderstones Park, Liverpool 17 June 2021 Tickets from £10 Book now

Where to go near Spoken Word in the Secret Garden at The Reader in Liverpool

Liverpool
Museum
Sudley House Art Gallery

Liverpool’s Sudley House is the only surviving Victorian merchant art collection in Britain still hanging in its original location.

Liverpool
Shop
Dead Ink Books

Dead Ink Books is an independent bookshop on Smithdown Road in Liverpool, exclusively stocking books from independent publishers.

Sefton Park
Liverpool
Park
Sefton Park

Sefton Park is a great place for walks in Liverpool, with expansive green spaces and cafes a stones throw from the city centre.

Otterspool Promenade
Liverpool
Otterspool Promenade

Otterspool Promenade is a riverside walk and accompanying area of parkland in the Aigburth and Grassendale districts of Liverpool, England.

Liverpool
Restaurant
Hafla Hafla

Locally-loved Middle Eastern restaurant on Liverpool’s vibrant Lark Lane.

Liverpool
Restaurant
Freida Mo’s

Charming café on Liverpool’s wonderful Lark Lane, serving up a wide range of drinks and food, with plenty of vegan options.

The Lodge
Lark Lane
Bar or Pub
The Lodge

The Lodge is a favourite fixture on Liverpool’s Lark Lane, serving up great drinks and excellent pub grub.

Metal Liverpool at Edge Hill Station
Liverpool
Event venue
Metal Liverpool

Metal produces an immensely varied programme of international and UK artists in residence, artist development labs, social events, education programmes and creative projects, all designed to encourage the participation of local people and communities.

What's on: Literature

Yellow poster with Weird as Folk written on it
Until
LiteratureManchester
Weird As Folk exhibition at The Portico

The Portico Library’s latest exhibition, Weird As Folk, runs through to November and invites you to explore and reimagine folklore via texts selected from the collection, which includes 100 books of English folklore.

free entry
AJ West
LiteratureLeeds
AJ West at Truman Books

Bestselling author AJ West’s latest historical thriller The Betrayal of Thomas True has been described by Stephen Fry as “really very good” and Farsley independent Truman Books is giving you the chance to hear more.

from £8.00
Rebecca Watson author photo
LiteratureManchester
Rebecca Watson at Blackwells

Acclaimed author and one of the ten best debut novelists on The Observer’s prestigious list in 2021, Rebecca Watson will be chatting about her latest book with culture writer Jess White at Blackwells bookshop in Manchester.

from £4.00

Culture Guides

Rebecca Watson author photo
Literature Events in Manchester and the North

In between working out, then working through, your holiday reading pile this summer, find inspiration for your next bookish acquisitions from our selection of live events and exhibitions.