Archive Excavation – Apples and Snakes’ 21st Anniversary

Time for another historical find from the depths of the Spoken Word Archive – here’s the latest in our #ArchiveExcavation blog series…

Here’s one for you. This is the official photo for our 21st anniversary, taken in the snowy landscape of Battersea Arts Centre’s main house on a sweltering day in July 2003. Poets were enlisted at short notice to fulfill the mother of all poetry commissions: to stand in the shape of a big 21. And look happy about it. It was hard finding enough poets on a weekday because they were mostly busy in schools or on exciting residencies (it’s a scurrilous myth that poets never surface until 4 in the afternoon), so the numbers were bolstered by Apples and Snakes staff. They’re easy to spot: they’re the less overtly poetical-looking ones.

21 photo

After an hour of trying to get a shot in which all thirty-seven of us had our eyes open – and persuading us that, in order for this to work, some of us might actually have to (God forbid) touch each other – the photographer got us to remove our shoes and let them do the 21-ing instead. You have to admire his lateral thinking.

21 shoesThese are the two shots we finally ended up using. The 21st anniversary itself comprised a mini-season of events, including an evening in which every poet who’d ever performed for us was invited to read a poem apiece at the venue where we’d originally started out, the former Adams Arms. Mercifully, not all of them showed up. Even so, it was a somewhat lengthy night. Imagine the longest open mic you’ve ever been to (I’m looking at you, Tip of Your Tongue Festival, Penzance) and times it by three.

Anyway, we wondered just how many of these colourfully-clad reprobates you can name. For the person who identifies the most, there’ll be a Spoken Word Archive Goody Bag giveaway – might even find one of Apples and Snakes’ finest branded pencils in there! So send us your answers – or any other feedback that you might have (‘I was there’, ‘Who is that good-looking cove?’, ‘Where did you get those shoes?’ etc etc).

So tell us who you can see from 2003 @applesandsnakes #PoetPuzzle! Or email with your answer. See competition rules here. And a big hello to long-suffering lensman Richard Nicholson.

Don’t miss any of our exciting spoken word discoveries – follow #ArchiveExcavation to keep up to date with the latest Archive finds. The Spoken Word Archive is supported by the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund. Find out more about the Archive project, here.  

Interested in archiving?  Apples and Snakes is looking for archive volunteers to be part of our Spoken Word Archive project. You will be able to commit one day a week, tasks will include digitising audio-visual material, scanning and inputting data onto the archive website. Useful to have an interest in the history of spoken word, and a knowledge of digital technology. Contact Russell Thompson, Archive Coordinator for more information about the Spoken Word Archive and to register your interest.