Red Room Poetry Brings BBC's 'Contains Strong Language' to Australia

Red Room Poetry news

Australian Poetry Goes Global: Red Room Poetry Brings UK’s Biggest Poetry and Performance Festival Down Under

Contains Strong Language, the much-loved UK poetry and spoken word festival, is coming to Australia this August. This is the first time the annual broadcast festival, founded by the BBC in 2017, is leaving British shores and this major coup will showcase Australian poetry globally.

Contains Strong Language will be presented by Red Room Poetry, and run as part of Poetry Month, Australia’s national annual celebration of poetry. Red Room is proudly partnering with the ABC and the BBC, with support from the Office for the Arts, the British Council and City of Sydney, to give Contains Strong Language 2024 a distinctly Aussie accent.

Events will be staged at iconic venues across Gadigal and Dharug lands in Sydney at the end of August, and broadcast by the BBC and ABC on both domestic and international services, sharing the power of Australian poets and poetry with the world. UK Poet Laureate Simon Armitage will lead a cohort of British poets who, with support from the British Council, will join local writers and spoken word artists in performances, masterclasses, live and online workshops and international writing collaborations.

Newly appointed Red Room Poetry CEO, Jonty Claypole, who co-founded Contains Strong Language in 2017 while at the BBC, said of the collaboration:

“This August, as part of Poetry Month, Red Room Poetry is going to take Australian poetry to the world. Working with the ABC, BBC and British Council, Contains Strong Language will showcase the remarkable diversity of poets and poetic forms in Australia today, giving a rounded picture of who we are, and reminding the world that we are, above all, a nation of exceptional creativity. This major partnership would not be possible without the support of the Minister for the Arts, The Hon Tony Burke MP and on behalf of Red Room, I extend our thanks for his support and very genuine love of poetry.”

The Hon Tony Burke MP, Minister for the Arts, said the funding support would put Australian artists up in lights on the world stage:

Our artists are storytellers that help us learn about ourselves, understand each other and let the world get to know us."

At the National Poetry Month Gala in 2023, the Minister said:

"I hate acronyms and love poetry. In my job you can get completely imprisoned in a world of nonfiction, where you're talking constantly in acronyms. The only way I found I could stop the acronyms was by putting an anthology of poems in the middle of the table and saying 'Whoever says the third acronym can read a poem to the group?'.”

Dina Rosendorff, Manager of ABC Radio National, says:

“The ABC’s partnership with the BBC’s Contains Strong Language and Red Room Poetry is a groundbreaking moment for Australian poetry and an opportunity to amplify local poets’ voices on the world stage. This collaboration demonstrates the ABC’s ongoing commitment to Australian arts and artists in every form and we are proud to join this incredible celebration of creativity.”

Helen Salmon, Director, Australia, at British Council, says:

Since the inception of Contains Strong Language, the British Council’s support has remained steadfast, signifying our belief in poetry as the very essence of experience, with the power to connect cultures and ignite imaginations. We are delighted to continue the spirit of enriching collaboration between the UK and Australia with this exciting partnership”


Poetry Month is an initiative of Australia’s leading poetic organisation, Red Room Poetry. Red Room is the only organisation in Australia that consistently commissions poets and produces live poetry events nationally.

Red Room’s vision for the annual Poetry Month program is to grow the audience, affection and acclaim for Australia’s own poetic voices, and create access points for people to engage in poetry. Red Room’s alumni of poets that had their debut commission or publication at Red Room include Evelyn Araluen, Sarah Holland-Batt, Candy Royalle and Kirli Saunders.

Red Room’s Poetry Month is led by CEO Jonty Claypole; Artistic Director David Stavanger; Artistic Director – First Nations Nicole Smede; Creative Producer Izzy Roberts-Orr; and Marketing and Communications Manager Rani Ghazzaoui.

Full program details for Poetry Month 2024 and Contains Strong Language will be announced in July.

Red Room Poetry is assisted by the Australian Government through Creative Australia, its principal arts investment and advisory body, and proudly funded by the NSW Government in association with Create NSW. Poetry Month is supported by Bret Walker AO SC, and the Copyright Agency’s Cultural Fund. Contains Strong Language is supported by the Commonwealth Government through the Office for the Arts, the ABC, the BBC, the British Council and the City of Sydney.


More About Poetry Month 2024


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