Five Years of Bravery

It was 2015. A year in from the Scottish independence referendum, when stickers faded pale on lampposts and flags fluttered limply in the breeze, or un-tethered, clung to high fences like a loose pair of nickers. It was as though some basic law of thermodynamics failed to take place. As if that fiery energy ought to have moved on. Heated up some other vessel or agitated another movement. Instead, it lingered in the air, resigned itself to the bar stools and blogs for the time being. And most people just got on with their lives, some relieved, some numb and others, angry as ever.

Writers Sarah Indigo and Eryl Sheilds concocted Brave New Words as a space to confront some of that undirected energy left from the referendum. We worked with them on structuring the day, talking with schools, community groups and others to come along and work it all out through a series of writing workshops, discussions and debates. That evening, we hosted the first Brave New Words Slam, an evening of spoken word, performance and beat-style poetry, reminiscent of the back alley bars of Brooklyn circa 1960 lit up the High Street. Well, not maybe not quite like that. But in my head, everything feels a bit like that. The poets played a blinder. From the ages of 14 to 80, it felt like something pretty special had happened.

A year later, we lost Sarah too soon. A light went out in the spoken word community in Scotland, with tributes pouring in from the central belt to the Galloway coast. Her work broke stigmas, challenged the status quo and energized everyone she came into contact with. Each birthday since then is not only a celebration of words spoken, sung, shot, signed or silenced. It’s a tribute to our founder and visionary.

This year, as it stands, is so unlike all the others. We’re not able to meet. And whilst we’re all weary of the rolling lockdowns, the dead air of pubs without music, the face masks, the rumbling anxiety of purchasing a pint of milk from the supermarket. It seems that now it’s more important than ever to celebrate as we once did and to share our thoughts, feelings, creativity and power with each other is so vital in making sense of the world around us. Beyond the peeling vinyl stickers of the town centre and the tequila-scented hand gel.

Just as in 2015, there’s an energy now that lingers in the air. What it is we can’t be as certain of what it is as then, but it comes out in the quieter moments of our lives. That’s when stories are written, songs are sung and creativity thrives.

Brave New Words is not possible without people. Literally. I’ve tried. More than a couple of empty mic nights confirm this. It’s the space to take a chance, often when you never you thought you had it in you. And each month, it’s completely different from the last. From epic poems on elderly cats, to Kate Bush inspired fluorescent neon dancing, 10 minute silences and rabble rousing political speeches.

So join us as we celebrate everything Brave this September. I mean, what else is there to do?!

Be Brave.

Musings News

Brave New Words Celebrates Four Years on the High Street!

This Friday sees the return of Brave New Words to The Stove for a special evening celebrating the fourth anniversary of the monthly event for new words spoken, sung, signed, shot or silenced. Since 2015, the open mic night has offered a platform to the town to celebrate diversity and challenge stigmas and stereotypes through spoken word, poetry, music and film.

Since our first Brave New Words four years ago, we’ve seen a new kind of scene flourish in the region. New poets, performers, musicians and writers from all walks of life coming together to support one another as well as a hunger for new work from local people. It’s really been an amazing journey.

Brave New Words plays a vital role in The Stove Network’s mission to bring vibrancy to evenings in the Town Centre, offering support to those willing to make a positive and impactful change in their home town and beyond. Since it began in 2015, Brave New Words has voyaged to festivals, created multi-disciplinary installations and uncovered an incredible amount of talent in the heart of Dumfries.

Over the years, Brave New Words has hosted some of the biggest names in the spoken word scene and as the project moves forward into 2020, there are a host exciting collaborations with national organisations, local initiatives and remarkable writers across Scotland.

This Friday’s Brave New Words tackles the theme of ‘Rebellion’ and will be a night full of surprises. Everyone is welcome to come along, and those wishing to participate should arrive prompt for 7pm to sign up to perform.



BNW Big 2nd Birthday

Brave New Words Big Birthday 2

Brave New Words celebrates its second birthday at the Stove on the 29th of September at 7PM with an apocalyptic showcase and open mic of new words spoken and sung. Featuring the launch of a brand new zine entitled Not Safe for Work.


Over the past two years Brave New Words has been a staple event in the town center attracting emerging writers, performers, singer/songwriters, comedians and even magicians It has showcased the biggest names in the spoken word and poetry scene both locally and internationally and continues to run workshops with schools and community groups on creative writing and performance.


Organizer Martin Joseph O’Neill says ‘It’s been an incredible two years, with some amazing talent on show from all ages and backgrounds. I’m looking forward to what the next year has in store.’ This year its celebrating with an all-out ‘end of the world’ theme and inviting the public to perform or attend in what is set to be a night not to be missed.  Entirely free, Brave New Words is held every last Friday of the month at the Stove in Dumfries.

News Project Updates

Brave New Words Celebrates First Birthday!

Brave New Words once again returned to The Stove, on Friday 30th September, for a special night celebrating the first anniversary of this monthly platform for new writing, spoken and sung. The night consisted of an extraordinary mix of performance by local poets and songwriters, featuring film, music and a specially commissioned performance from local artists Michael Sullivan and Lee McQueen.

BNW Birthday

To celebrate their first birthday, Brave New Words teamed up with blueprint100 to create a special zine for the night. Blueprint100 held various workshops throughout the month of September, in which previous participants of the open mic night submitted their original poetry and artwork to be part of the zine. The zine is currently available in The Stove Café for a small donation, with all proceeds going towards The Sindigo Foundation.

Brave New Words zine.

Martin O’Neill, who runs Brave New Words, commented, “The past year has been incredible, we’ve seen people grow more confident with each month, heard some of the most inspiring poetry and played host to dynamic people, workshops and ideas. We were really pleased with the amount of people that came along to be a part of Brave New Words, and we would like to thank all the participants for contributing, as well as anyone who picked up a zine and donated money.”

The open mic night is part of our mission to bring vibrancy to evenings in the Town Centre. Through various performances, the event aims to challenge stigmas and stereotypes, whilst offering support to those willing to make a positive and impactful change in their home town and beyond. Over the past year, Brave New Words has held workshops with community groups, the general public and schools, in which they aim to celebrate diversity, and understand creative writing. They have also had the opportunity to host some of Scotland’s biggest names in the spoken word scene, voyaged to festivals, created multi-disciplinary installations and uncovered some incredible talent right here in the heart of Dumfries.

BNW Birthday
Jamie Court performing at Brave New Words

Brave New Words will return to The Stove on the 28th of this month for a special Halloween Spectacular open mic night.

To take part and for more information on events, please email [email protected].

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