Official website of award-winning LGBTQ+ literary salon 


Jake Arnott
Jake Arnott

Polari at Southbank

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Polari Paul
Polari Paul

Image by Justin David

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Celia Imrie & Fidelis Morgan
Celia Imrie & Fidelis Morgan

Polari at Southbank

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In these uncertain times, you can support Polari’s vital work by buying us a coffee HERE


The Polari Prize awards 2022 are now open for submissions.

There are now three prizes – for debut, non-debut and children’s and YA books.

The submission fee for the non-debut prize is £25 or £15 for the debut/children’s/YA prizes.

The deadline for submissions is Monday May 2.

This year’s awards are open to books published up to and including Feb 1, 2022.

Books published after this date will be eligible next year.


This year’s awards ceremony will be in November, at our new home at The British Library.

For more info, see Polari Prize



In October 2021, Polari completed its largest tour to date, supported by a grant from Arts Council England’s Grants for the Arts. Originally planned as a 22 date tour, the tour included 25 dates, many of them online as a result of the pandemic. 

The Polari Prize Tenth Anniversary Tour showcased writers nominated for the 2020 and 2021 Polari Prize awards for emerging and established LGBTQ+ literary talent, in addition to winners from the Prize’s proud ten year history, dating all the way back to 2011. 

The tour kicked off at Huddersfield Literature Festival in March 2020 and ended on October 30 2021 when the latest Prize winners were announced as part of the London Literature Festival. 

The tour also included events in Brighton, Edinburgh, Manchester and at London’s famous nightclub Heaven and legendary LGBTQ+ venue The RVT.


Founded by author Paul Burston, Polari began in 2007 in a bar in Soho.


In 2009, we moved to London’s Southbank Centre.


Since 2014, we’ve also toured regularly, funded by Arts Council England.

We’ve appeared in bars and clubs, at book festivals, libraries, museums and theatres.


We also host events online.

There’s a brief history of Polari on our YouTube channel HERE 

There’s a history of our touring activities HERE

There’s a history of The Polari Prize HERE

For a taste of recent events, you can listen to the Polari podcast HERE

Writers and performers who’ve appeared at Polari include Adele Anderson, Amrou Al-Kadhi, Jake Arnott, Neil Bartlett, Dustin Lance Black, John Boyne, Russell T Davies, Juno Dawson, Maureen Duffy, Stella Duffy, Carey Wood-Duffy, Janet Ellis, Cerys Evans, Bernardine Evaristo, Patrick Gale, Rosie Garland, Nikita Gill, Salena Godden, Niven Govinden, Garth Greenwell, Alexis Gregory, Saleem Haddad, Mari Hannah, Philip Hensher, Celia Imrie, Juliet Jacques, Keith Jarrett, Jackie Kay, VG Lee, Kirsty Logan, David McAlmont, John McCullough, Val McDermid, Karen McLeod, Andrew McMillan, Paul McVeigh, Charlotte Mendelson, Fiona Mozley, Musa Okwonga, Okechukwu Nzelu, Diriye Osman, Juno Roche, Ali Smith, Diana Souhami, Andrea Stuart, Joelle Taylor, Tracey Thorn, Paula Varjack, Sophie Ward, Sarah Waters and Mohsin Zaidi.

Polari was named Cultural Event of the Year in the Co-op Respect Loved By You Awards 2013.

“Always fun, always thought-provoking – a guaranteed great night out” – Sarah Waters

“Lively, funny and inspiring – a gay-themed salon of interest to anyone remotely interested in literature, whatever their sexual bent” – Patrick Gale


Coming up

Paul Burston
Paul Burston

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Diana Souhami
Diana Souhami

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Mohsin Zaidi
Mohsin Zaidi

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Sun July 3 - Polari at Bradford Literature Festival 6-7.15pm. £1, £7 & £10

With Adam Lowe, Jill Nalder and Polari Prize winner Diana Souhami.

Thur July 21 - Polari at the British Library 7-8.30pm. £10 (£5 conc)

With former Polari Prize winners Angela Chadwick, John McCullough and Mohsin Zaidi. Plus we announce this year’s long lists! 

Aug 4 - Polari at Sangam Festival 7.30-8.30pm. FREE ONLINE

With Tufayel Ahmed, Nikita Gill and Raga DSilva.


"The most exciting literary movement in London... crackling with energy, ideas, excitement"



For enquiries, please contact

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