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Posted on 27 February 2024

Down Town gets set for spoken word night and book launch

We’ve got an exciting event coming up at Down Town. On Thursday 21st March, we’re hosting our very own spoken word night!

Hosted by author Ralph Dartford, the event offers the perfect opportunity for local people to take to the stage and enjoy their moment behind the mic. Whether it’s a musical melody or a passage of poetry, we’re looking forward to sitting back and enjoying the home-grown talent Burnley has to offer.

It’s not just a spoken word night either. We’re celebrating one of Down Town’s most familiar faces, Mark Gornall, who will be joining us to launch his very first book of poetry.

The event is proudly supported by the ‘Mechanics Theatre Presents’ project, an Arts Council England funded programme that helps local people access arts and culture and develop local artists. Burnley Together, The Calico Group, Red Rose Recovery and BRIC are also working together to support the evening.

As well as entertainment, we’ll also be serving some delicious hot food and offering a chance to buy books. Tickets for our spoken word night can be booked online for free.

Introducing ‘One Day at a Time’

Many who are in recovery will relate to the concept of taking it one day at a time. Recovery is a life-long journey, and everyone has their own way unique way of motivating themselves to stay sober. Mark chose words. After completing poetry sessions with Mancunian poet Mike Garry during his stay at Acorn Recovery Projects, Mark dove into creative writing and turned his thoughts into poems.

Mark said: “It was an emotional time during recovery. Turning moments into poetry took the power out of them and made room in my mind for better things”.

‘One Day at a Time’ isn’t just poetry about Mark’s life either – it’s a collaboration of stories from others in recovery, which came to fruition with thanks to Facebook. ‘Creative Writing for Recovery’ was set up by Mark as an online community space for people in recovery to collaborate and communicate. Through his recovery forum, he was flooded by poetry submissions, receiving entries from Preston, Huddersfield and Newcastle to name but a few.

Many of the poets from his book are joining open mic night – and some will even be taking to the stage to share their talents with Burnley.

Mark said: “This book isn’t about me. It’s people’s stories, poems and personal letters to make people aware of how writing can help recovery.”

The proceeds from One Day at a Time are being donated to Casual Minds Matter. You can download an e-book or order a copy at

Special thanks to Burnley Together

Mark has been a regular face at Down Town for years. Like many others, he’s enjoyed the consistent support of Down Town and stops by regularly to say hello.

Mark said: “Down Town was the starting point for me. It got me back in the community when I needed it most. They offer great support and advice.”

I love coming back to say thank you for everything they’ve done for me. I always speak to the staff, they’re great and always support my creative writing.”

He continued: “It’s not just a food bank and café, it’s a community hub. People who are struggling know there’s always a place to go and feel welcome. It’s an amazing place to be. The coffee and butties are great too!”.

Join us on Thursday 21st March from 7.30pm at Down Town (above New Look in Charter Walk). Tickets are free and can be booked in advance online. We look forward to seeing you there!

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