About Hannah Silva

Hayley Madden for The Poetry Society
Hannah Silva: credit: Hayley Madden for The Poetry Society


Hannah Silva is a poet, playwright and performer known for her innovative explorations of form, voice and language in performance. Her work explores a wide range of subjects: from political rhetoric (Opposition) to paranormal science (Total Man), teenage sexual identity (Orchid) to long distance running (Marathon Tales). Her current performance, Schlock!, is a meditation on pain, the body and the self, consent, complicity and ownership, splicing the language of Fifty Shades of Grey with a novel by Kathy Acker. Schlock! premiered at the Aldeburgh Poetry Festival and is performed using British Sign Language, soundscapes and poetry.

Her debut poetry collection Forms of Protest (Penned in the Margins, 2013) has been widely praised and was Highly Commended in the Forward Prizes. She won the Tinniswood Award for Best Radio Drama Script with her verse play Marathon Tales (co-written with Colin Teevan for BBC Radio 3) and has been shortlisted for the Ted Hughes Award for New Work in Poetry for Total Man.

Silva’s texts and performances play on the borders of artforms, drawing on her background in music (Conservatoriam van Amsterdam), choreography (Dartington College of Arts) and theatre (MFA Exeter University). She has shown her work throughout the UK and internationally including at the Tokyo Design Centre, Krikri International Festival of Polyphony in Belgium, Latitude Festival, Edinburgh Festival Fringe, Southbank Centre, Sage Gateshead, and the Lowry. She is currently Associate Lecturer in Poetry and Playwriting at Birkbeck, University of London, and Associate Artist of Penned in the Margins.

Discover more about my work in this podcast for Culture Laser


This dense, complex, intelligent hour…celebrates the slipperiness of words
★★★★ Lyn Gardner, The Guardian on Schlock!

Radical, political, courageous
★★★★★ What’s on Stage on Opposition

Her physical performances, fast-talking delivery and innovative use of cut-up text make her one of the most ambitious and entertaining poets in the country.
The Times, Top Ten Literary Stars of 2008

She uses techniques like cut-up and collage, sound poetry and physical theatre to create something that’s unique but nods to older forms like shamanism, pre-religious ceremonies, Dadaism, and the kind of games that children play with language.
Ian McMillan, The Verb, BBC Radio 3