WORD! is an 18-year-old voluntary poetry and spoken word organisation based in the East Midlands. Not only does it deliver one of the longest running poetry and spoken word nights in the UK, but it is also pioneering an ever expanding programme of other activities across Leicester and Nottinghamshire.

These include regular nights in Leicester and Beeston; one off shows; a poetry festival; annual Slam; regular workshops; ongoing and one-off projects working with specific communities and our publishing imprint, WORD! Poetry.

Previously nominated for a Saboteur Award, the organisation was responsible for the creative development of the highly successful Lyric Lounge (Writing East Midlands’ touring festival of poetry); the East Midlands Poetry Slam and is a founder member of Everybody’s Reading, Leicester’s annual festival of books and reading, now in its tenth year.

We are uniquely co-produced by an NHS Trust (Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust) and currently enabled due to the generous funding support of Arts Council England. Further funding support is provided by University of Leicester Wellbeing Matters (via the Edith Murphy Foundation), Attenborough Arts Centre and Inspire. Our other partners and collaborators include BrightSparks Arts in Mental Health Group and Writing East Midlands.


  • Lydia Towsey

    Lydia Towsey

    • WORD! Chair, Host & Artistic Director
    • [email protected]
    • Lydia Towsey is a poet and performer with an MA in Creative Writing and a primary school certificate in 'tap dancing'. Shortlisted for the Bridport Poetry Prize, she has spoken and performed everywhere from the 100 Club, Roundhouse and the House of Lords - to ‘On the Buses’ (as Arriva Buses and Literary Leicester's Poet in Residence). Commissioned by The Guardian, Royal Albert Hall, Apples and Snakes and Poet in the City, amongst others, her work appears in a number of anthologies including Hallelujah for 50ft Women (Bloodaxe Books); Over Land, Over Sea - Poems for those Seeking Refuge (Five Leaves) and 10 Poems about Knitting (Candlestick Press). Her two full length collections, 'The Venus Papers' and 'The English Disease' are both published by Burning Eye Books.

      In addition to her work as an artist Lydia is the Chair of BrightSparks: Arts in Mental Health Group, and an NHS worker, co-directing (with Tim Sayers) a nationally unique Arts in Health Service for Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust.

      For more information: visit: www.secretagentartist.wordpress.com
  • Tim Sayers

    Tim Sayers

    • Treasurer & Host
    • Tim has been involved in arts and mental health for over twenty years and is the founder member of BrightSparks: Arts in Mental Health Group. He has a background in mental health nursing, but is also an experienced freelance performer and workshop leader in the fields of music, poetry, comedy, magic and circus skills.
  • Pam Thompson

    Pam Thompson

    • Joint Secretary and Host
    • Pam Thompson is a poet and academic with a Phd in Creative Writing. She’s the author of 4 poetry collections: Strange Fashion (Pindrop Press, 2017), Hologram ( Sunk island Publishing, 2009), The Japan Quiz ( Redbeck Press, 2009) and Show Date and Time (Smith-Doorstop, 2006). Widely published in magazines, such as: The North, The Rialto, Mslexia, Magma and Under the Radar - Pam has had success in a number of competitions. She was winner of the Magma Judges Prize in 2015 and a Highly Commended in the Forward Prize Anthology in the same year.

      In March 2017 she won 3rd Prize in the Poets and Players Poetry Competition. Pam is a freelance writer, tutor and reviewer and is a 2019 Hawthornden Fellow. For more information see: https://pamthompsonpoetry.com
  • Richard Byrt

    Richard Byrt

    • Joint Secretary
    • Richard Byrt is a retired mental health nurse and a member of the WORD! team. He completed an MA creative writing at De Montfort University. He is an active participant in local poetry events. Richard’s first collection, Devil’s Bit, published by De Montfort Books, Ltd., was commissioned by Upstairs at the Western pub theatre. He has also had poems published in several magazines and anthologies.
  • Peter


    • Peter Buckley (BA, MA) is a poet, visual artist, and facilitator from Leicester. His work is informed by his post-graduate studies in Film and amongst many other things, his experience of disability as someone with cerebral palsy. He has edited and co-edited publications, and has appeared in online publications and journals. He is PTLLS-qualified, to Level 4, to teach.

      For last few years, Peter has been the lead facilitator of The Bradgate Writers - a regular writing group and collective, delivered by Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust in partnership with WORD! and Brightsparks.
  • Brandon Oliver

    Brandon Oliver

    • AfterWORD! Host
    • Brandon has a real great knack of pissing people off, and it is brilliant.

      He can save on electricity by smiling in a room, which he chooses to do a lot. His belly is the sign of good wealth and happiness is in his heart, his feet stay firmly on the ground (even when he has fallen flat on his back).

      People say that Brandon is a good listener, and his trick to doing this is usually to have a daydream in the middle of the conversation...about words...about YouTubers.

      He’ll do this for a while before the other person’s words come echoing into his brain and zap him back to reality, and he’s found out that all the words have sunk in anyway, and he can now project an answer with all the use of his voice: a machine gun of confidence tumbling over each other and filling the other person’s brain up to capacity.

      And then, before he knows it, the conversation is over. Brandon is also part of The Bradgate Writers' facilitating team.
  • Jonathan R Hurley

    Jonathan R Hurley

    • Committee Member
    • Jonathan, born in the borough where the Magna Carta was first signed. Followed the Northern star up to Leicester and finally found himself at home with his wife, son and daughter.

      Loves mango ice-cream, passion-fruit j2o’s and strawberries accompanied by Wimbledon tennis. Most infamous moment – when crashing a golf ball through a passing car, most famously known for being an accompanied street entertainer in the middle of Bath, throwing lit torches.

      His wordplay extends to compiling cryptic crosswords and he prefers the lifelines that writing has provided rather than deadlines set for writers. Jonathan is also part of The Bradgate Writers' facilitating team.