Meet the Teach – Spoken Word Workshop


Holli Dillon

Why is spoken word still so important today?

I actually think it’s always been a way of expressing yourself and there is still very much a scene in London and across the world.

You are running a Spoken Word Workshop at Theatre Delicatessen this weekend. What kinds of skills will participants take away from this day?

A deeper appreciation for the art form, a new poem, an awareness of persona and/or character styles, delivery, the voice and where to gig.

Do you need to have tried spoken word before to participate in this workshop?

Not at all. Beginners are welcome. An awareness of performance would be preferred though. But whether it is your confidence, the business or your writing that you wish to improve on, there will be a chance to work on it all.

What would you say to anyone on the fence about whether they want to try performing spoken word?

It’s a very supportive network of artists who aren’t afraid to speak the truth. I am constantly astounded by the words spoken on poetry nights. It’s an expression and pretty much anything goes.

Why do you think spoken word is typically considered an art form for the ‘young’?

That’s interesting. I come from Colchester and we have a plethora of poets who are all mature and wizened in their careers and writing. I think it’s an art form that lends itself to all ages. The beat poets of the 60s to the ancient Greeks to the young rap artists of today.

What do you think the future is for spoken word as an art form?

A platform to relate in a language that speaks to people in rhythm, rhyme and style like it always has been. A way to emote. Sometimes silly, sometimes hour long rants about the state of politics. It’s all relevant. Also I think it’s a great tool to empower kids and adults alike that perhaps felt they never had a voice or didn’t get the supportive education they needed if they were dyslexic or autistic or other ics, isms and disabilities. To speak and be heard is very very empowering.

People talk about the power of the ‘spoken word’. Where do you think that power comes from?

As I’ve already touched on… it’s an expression, often from the heart. Whether it be a silly limerick from Spike Milligan or a sonnet or an ode to modern living. To speak your own words and have a voice is very nourishing for the soul. Not just as a poet but as the audience. It’s like having a heart to heart, with a microphone.

What has spoken word brought to your life and to your work?

It’s been something I’ve always done. I hid my poems in my teens for fear of being laughed at. They were very typically angsty teen BS, but recently having read them back I realise there’s a lot of wisdom and emotion in there that helped soothe me. The poem I had published at 13 was an affirmation, almost a spell that still serves me today.

What training have you had?

I trained as a comedian. I have an MDrama from Kent University and specialised in Stand-Up for my final year. I realised very quickly that physical and abstract comedy were more my thing and so I looked into training in clown when I graduated. Spoken word and poetry is just something I’ve done since I was little and I feel more confident with my writing these days.

Who most inspires your work?

Spike Milligan, John Cooper Clark, Shakespeare, the Greeks and many many young voices I’ve heard on the circuit. And although I’m biased, Michael Twaits (man in a dress) has a beat poem about being a drag queen and it’s phenomenal.

Holli Dillon is a regular performer with Finger in the Pie, with her clown show ‘Appetite‘ continuing to develop. She is teaching the Spoken Word (In Cabaret) Workshop running this Sunday, 25th October.

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