The 2017 Commissions

Changing Times

The theme for this year’s festival is ‘Changing Times’, and we have awarded two commissions of £500. From an Open Call to writers within the SO postcode area, the judging panel, including representatives from ArtfulScribe, Nuffield Theatres and Culture Southampton, worked on blind submissions, and selected Damian O’Vitch and Matt TL Smith to develop their proposals.

Damian O’Vitch

Before he became a poet, Damian O’Vitch worked for the NHS. Since then, he’s performed poetry at The Royal Albert Hall, The Isle of Wight Festival, WOMAD and the Southampton Ferry Terminal. He was a finalist at the 2016 Hammer & Tongues National Poetry Slam. He also collaborates with writing projects and spoken word events.

Damian O’Vitch is like the ’92 Danish Euro Squad… but with poetry” – Elvis McGonagall.

Damian O’Vitch’s Facebook page.


Matt LT Smith

Matt L.T. Smith is a performance poet from Hampshire. He spends his nights at open-mics and writes poetry to reveal emotional truth through abstraction. Crafting poems that range from the personal to the political, he tries to bridge the gap between the two, exploring how each of us is a product of our environment. After spending his formative writing years writing a mix of protest poems and confessional pieces, he now aims to look inward to find how his environment has impacted both himself and those close to him. His work has previously been featured in iamnotasilentpoet, Dream Catcher and More Exhibitionism.

Matt L T Smith’s Facebook.

Both Damian and Matt will be performing at the Southampton Showboat on 20th October.


Jane Austen and the Waterman


2017 marks 200 years since Jane Austen’s death, and after a summer of activities, SO: To Speak is jumping into the celebrations with a specially commissioned piece by playwrights Philip Glasborow and Cecily O’Neill, entitled Jane Austen and the Waterman. Both Jane Austen and the famed composer/songwriter Charles Dibdin are treasured icons in the literary and cultural heritage of Southampton, and the play conjures up a meeting between the two. The play will be performed at the Mercure Dolphin Hotel on 22nd October.