Slam and Spoken Word Artists – Call for Participants

We are looking for young slam and spoken word artists who are interested in participating in a poetry/research project this summer.  Participants must be between 16 and 25 years old on 4th July 2016 and must be available for up to 17 days of project work between 4th July and 26th August.  The project will be a collaboration between social scientists and spoken word artists to create research-based poems related to the theme of discrimination.   It is being run by Dr Helen Johnson (University of Brighton, England) and Prof Claudia Mitchell (McGill University).

During the project, you will be trained in research methods by experienced social scientists and share poetry performance and writing techniques with other spoken word artists, including in masterclass workshops.  You will also help produce and perform in a spoken word performance in Montreal  and create a chapbook of poems.  Participation is free and participants will not be expected to contribute to any materials or tuition.  All participants will receive $300 CAD of book vouchers, a one month public transit pass for citywide travel, ten copies of the chapbook, a certificate of participation and a written reference reflecting their achievements.

If you are interested in taking part or finding out more about the project, please email Helen Johnson at:

Further Information about Helen Johnson (Project Helen Gregory by Gary Learmonth2Organiser)
I am a performance poet, poetry events organiser and academic, specialising in work about/involving the arts and creativity. I have been writing poetry most of my life and performing poetry since around 2000. I run the spoken word areas of several festivals in the UK, including the Poetry&Words stage at the world’s largest greenfield festival, Glastonbury Festival. I work as a senior Psychology Lecturer at the University of Brighton, in England, where I teach a range of different subject areas, including qualitative research methods, community Psychology and the (critical) history of Psychology. My research to date has explored a range of topics, including: UK and US slam communities (doctoral research), poetry interventions in dementia care, and the cognitive neuropsychology of metaphor production.

Until the end of 2015, I was called Helen Gregory, so you will find a lot of my work under that name!


Further Information about the Project
This project is funded by the National Centre for Research Methods and the University of Brighton. Its aim is to develop and articulate innovative, arts-based research methods for the social sciences. The method we will be looking at is autoethnography. This is where researchers write creatively about their experiences, rather than producing the standard , academic journal articles and conference papers. These creative accounts can be much more accessible, engaging and meaningful than the usual dry and dusty academic texts, but they are not always creatively accomplished. My hope, then, is to bring a group of skilled spoken word artists on board, to write high quality poems that are underscored both by their own experiences of discrimination and by what social scientists understand about discrimination.

The poets working on this project will be treated as co-researchers and will be able to shape the focus, timetable and direction of the project, so the way this proceeds is very much open to discussion. The draft plan currently looks like this:

– From recruitment-June: liaise/collaborate with poets over email about the design, focus and timetable of the project

– July: Approx. 4 workshops on research methods (looking at participatory research, arts-based research and literature searching) , 1 or 2 masterclass poetry writing workshops, sessions reviewing the literature (poets working both independently and in a group with Helen Johnson), drafting poems

– August: writing and redrafting poems, 1 or 2 masterclass poetry performance workshops, show design, chapbook design and printing, rehearsals and performance, focus group discussing how the project went

– After August: The lead researchers (Helen and Claudia) will make a video about the project from footage taken during the July/August work. They will also write up the method and project work for journals, conferences and teaching materials.

If you want to find out more about arts-based research, this article about an exhibition I put on to challenge dementia stigma, would be a great place to start:


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