The Leaping Word is thrilled to announce the return of Bristol’s long-established and much missed poetry open mic, following an extended hiatus caused by Covid and then the search for a more spacious venue.

Silver Street Poetry will now be held on the last Friday of the month, from 12.30 – 2.00pm, at St Stephen’s Church, which is just off Bristol City Centre. A contribution of £4 is suggested, or whatever you can afford, to cover room hire costs and the guest poet’s expenses. Our ethos is very much one of support and encouragement, care and mutual respect, and all are welcome.

We shall be returning in our usual format – two open mic sessions, to which everyone who wishes is invited to read a single poem, separated by two 10-minute sets from a guest poet, in the middle of which there will be a break, where attendees can avail themselves of the facilities, which include a café! The proceedings will be organised and overseen by Deborah Harvey of the Leaping Word, along with Rosalie Alston, Dominic Fisher and Pat Simmons.

Our first gathering will be held on 30th September 2022, when guest poet Deborah Harvey will be reading from her most recent collection of poems, ‘Learning Finity’. Upcoming guests include two more well-known local poets, Dominic Fisher (October) and Helen Sheppard (November).

Relaunch photo

Entrance to the church is from St Stephen’s Avenue, through the dark blue doors in the porch at the base of the tower. The building is accessible to wheelchair users; please see St Stephen’s website for further details:

If you are driving to Silver Street Poetry, the nearest affordable car parks are at the Galleries in Broadmead (0.3 miles) and the Mud Dock car park (0.4 miles). It is 0.4 miles from the bus station and 0.9 miles from Temple Meads.

Do please spread the word, especially to poets who might not use social media or email and so are less likely to hear that our sessions are resuming. Thank you.


We’re delighted to announce the publication of Deborah’s fifth poetry collection, Learning Finity, which is available to buy from the Indigo Dreams website, or from Deb herself, via, price £10.

How much of the past, its people and memories, stay imprinted on the landscape? Are the trees lining the nave of a bombed-out church busy rebuilding it? And does the valerian that thrusts through cracks in walls on streets climbing from the city centre remember when the hillside was woodland called Fockynggrove, rising beyond the city walls and a very well frequented spot indeed? Yes, everything is mutable, but stories persist.

Do look out for information on Facebook and Twitter re forthcoming real life and Zoom launches.



We’re delighted to announce that our two poetry groups are to recommence in person at the Bristol Folk House, starting on 10th and 17th September. (Can’t wait to hit the Folk House cafe again!) We currently have one vacancy; if you think you might be interested, please contact for details.



We’re very pleased to announce the publication of Deborah’s fourth poetry collection, The Shadow Factory. Like its predecessors, it is available to buy from the Indigo Dreams website, or from Deb herself, price £10.

‘As a child, Deborah Harvey was fascinated by the rollsign of the 98 bus that gave its destination as The Shadow Factory, but as her stop came before the terminus, she never reached it, and an intimation of disappointment prevented her from asking what was made there. As a result, The Shadow Factory became a warehouse of wishes and unrealised dreams, a metaphor for life and death, and eventually this collection of poems that explore childhood, memory and the twilight of those household gods we call parents.’

Praise for the poem ‘Oystercatchers’ from The Shadow Factory:

Every word is weighted. Although nothing is explicit, something important is being enacted, and the epigraph by Camus adds an anchor, so that we guess his are the words being taken to the sea and released from the heart. I kept coming back to this and getting more from it.’   Pascale Petit


Deborah has a busy schedule of readings from The Shadow Factory lined up over the coming months.


We’re delighted that the first collection of poems by Leaping Word poetry group member Dominic Fisher has now been published by The Blue Nib, price £10.

Dominic will be giving readings from The Ladies and Gentlemen of the Dead around the country over the coming months.




So pleased here at the Leaping Word that ‘Oystercatchers’, a poem by our very own Deborah Harvey, has just come home with a shiny penny in its pocket, having been awarded first prize in the 2018 Plough Prize Short Poem Competition.

Of the competition, Judge Pascale Petit says: ‘I love short poems, but I know how hard they are to write, so it was with trepidation that I read this longlist. I need not have worried – the under-ten-liner is in good health. The challenge is to go as far as in a long poem, without the length! It’s all about compression and impact, making words as elastic as possible.

‘Oystercatchers’ does just that – every word is weighted. In ten short lines I see a figure like Leonora Carrington’s ‘The Giantess’, a powerful and spare enigma of a woman, oystercatchers, (with their red bills and legs), and blood cells. Although nothing is explicit, something important is being enacted, and the epigraph by Camus adds an anchor, so that we guess his are the words being taken to the sea and released from the heart. I kept coming back to this and getting more from it.’

The Leaping Word would like to extend its congratulations to the other winners in both categories of the 2018 competition, the Open and the Short Poem, and to all the short- and long-listed poets. 

‘Oystercatchers’ will be included in Deborah’s forthcoming collection, The Shadow Factory, to be published by Indigo Dreams Publishing later this summer.


And to prove we like to practise what we preach at the Leaping Word, here’s Colin with his certificate for winning the individual prize in the City of Bristol College Creative Writing Competition, with a poetic-prose piece called MIAOWWW!

Colin says: ‘Black cats evoke magic, mystery, music, night-time and a cool lyric! I played around with these elements and Miaowww! gradually appeared… magical realism, Filton style.’



We’re delighted to announce that Leaping Word poetry group member Dominic Fisher has followed his success in the 2018 Bristol Poetry Prize by securing a publishing contract with The Blue Nib for his forthcoming collection, The Ladies and Gentleman of the Dead. Well done, Dominic!

our hare reversed

Good poets reinvent the language, taking the given of ordinary speech and pushing it beyond itself, making in effect a translation from one sense of reality to another.

Jay Parini