Text reads: "clitbait x s-bars" with an image of s-bars performing

“Word of Mouth”: an interview with a Spoken Word Artist

Our Arts and Culture editor Sofi interviews poet s-bars ahead of her performance at the Clitbait Cabaret on the 14th March 2023!

No matter the art form, it seems the same two forces are always at work: Chaos and Neuroticism. Like ever, both elements keep cropping up in my and Sofe’s chat about spoken word performance. The morning we meet, my own neurotic attempt to stop via the library means I arrive at our interview having forgotten both my phone and laptop. Bereft of such technological appendages I’m left feeling at once spontaneous and unwittingly off-grid. The wonderful Sofe (aka. S-bars) luckily reaches our designated rendezvous point without a hitch and doesn’t seem at all thrown by my supremely unstructured chaos.*

*Spoilers: Sofe absolutely does not mind, and, in fact, embracing said excited chaos, spends the next hour guiding me on a whimsical journey of artistic advice, hilarious chance encounters and personal recommendations. Having studied as a dancer and in the current depths of exploring the world of drag and comedy, Sofe imparts a desire to simultaneously move, sing and shout. Safe to say this is an artist accustomed to the adrenaline of performance, but what could they tell me about encountering mishaps and the unexpected? I was keen to find out, even if purely for my own peace of mind…

A lot of your work explores the twists and turns of life in your twenties. Sometimes things can go unexpectedly or not to plan, especially on stage! How do you navigate being in control of that and maintaining your chill?

Whilst day-to-day I would describe myself as very much a to-do list type of person, I find performing liberating and have managed to accept the ethos of whatever happens happens. Even if I admit to a certain inner-drama-kid cheekiness which means I don’t shy away from challenges (like sitting on the front row at shows or risking being heckled); I still recognise that the unknown is daunting. Like doing stand-up for instance! I am currently enrolled on a comedy course, and the first week was super scary! But experience has shown me to maintain faith. Looking back to Day 1 of the Drag Course at Soho Theatre I did last year: we all went from apologising for our performances to finally creating a show we were proud of. Growing friendships definitely played a part in feeling more at ease on stage. I think overall, having spontaneity and self-belief is important to my bantering performance style; I am naturally cheeky on stage and so like having the space to improvise no matter what the art form. 

That is really interesting! You talk about the adrenaline you get from reading poems aloud – does not knowing how people might react to them enhance your experience?

Adrenaline and stepping out of your comfort zone are for sure important to me. It’s the difference between a bedroom poet and a performance poet: it’s about being accepting of your own vulnerability on stage. Let’s just time-travel back to 2017 for a second: can you believe my first ever reading was when a friend secretly enrolled me in a Poetry Slam without my knowing! Naive and a bit nervous, I performed first, and even in my innocence managed to be a bit cheeky with the audience. Thank god I didn’t raise what a “Slam” actually meant – the idea of being judged at my first-ever reading would have put me right off! Now that’s what you call being thrown into the deep end with no arm bands! They liked it enough to give me first place and S-bars the spoken word artist was a product of that adrenaline.

It’s the difference between a bedroom poet and a performance poet: it’s about being accepting of your own vulnerability on stage.


Having said this, It’s worth noting that ‘comfort zones’ are different to ‘safe spaces’. I am much more open to spontaneity on stage when I know I am performing in a safe and welcoming venue. Queer-friendly spaces allow me to relax and focus on my craft rather than worry that people will be accepting of me, let alone my art. My writing explores topics like gender expression and mental health and I often write from my own experiences. It’s important to raise awareness of themes and topics that are important to me. An example of this is the poem I am proudest of to date, ‘Say It With Your Chest’, which explores gender expression and breast cancer. In terms of performing in welcoming spaces in London, I love Soho theatre of course, as well as Doña and Luna in East London for inspiring positive creative energy. Becoming part of a community, I’m grateful that all my gigs seem to come about by ‘word of mouth’ these days. It seems kind of fitting for a lover of the spoken word! 

Queer-friendly spaces allow me to relax and focus on my craft rather than worry that people will be accepting of me, let alone my art.


Amazing, thank you so much for the recommendations! And when you aren’t writing your poetry, what else can we expect from the wonderful world of S-bars this year?

Some people from the poetry circuit may not know I am also a Dance Practitioner, currently doing part-time lecturing on the interdisciplinary relationship between Text and Dance. Apart from this, I would also love to turn my hand to some songwriting this year. In terms of musical inspo, I’ve been listening to a lot of Tash Sultana (a spiritual experience), Loyle Carner, and Kae Tempest (a soulful spiritual experience). Hahaha. Oh, and of course, I cannot wait to perform at Clitbait Cabaret with you guys in March…..

Catch S-bars performing at the Clitbait Cabaret in Stoke Newington on Tuesday 14th of March, DICE tickets are out now and selling fast!!!

Find S-bars on Instagram @sbarks_