Chickens win the 16th Swindon Slam!

13 May

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Today I witnessed a poetry slam for the first time. I’ve been aware of them for about 13 years, so it was about time I got my finger out and went to one.

But what a great performance! Seasoned hosts Sarah-Jane Arbury and Marcus Moore have been doing this a long time – Swindon’s is the second longest running in the UK – but both are as fresh as a daisy, warming up the audience with an introductory clap along to Donna Summer’s Hot Stuff.

There were four heats of four poets each, judged on performance, writing and audience appreciation (by clapping, whooping, whistling, feet stamping, and, er, kissing and winking).

There were Slam! virgins, experienced slammers; some poets read though most performed from memory. Subjects included: porn, poetry prostitutes, cake, equality, the benefits of dogs over kids, family squabbles, money, lack of confidence, easily shocked Scottish ladies, hairy ladies, domestic violence, Iraq (twice), the perils of teen models, London, a Glaswegian dominatrix, the minotaur, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern and sex in films.

Marcus entertained between votes with silly hats, even sillier T-shirts, comedy verse and irreverent haiku. Sarah-Jane’s interval-written intros for the finalists were pure pun gold.

In the end, Stroud poet Candy Cruncher (a rename for Pink Sniper, last seen by me at Cheltenham Poetry Festival, I’m guessing a nod to the chocolate Marcus throws at the participants after their heat) beat Swindon Open Mic regular Jonathan Muirhead in the final. Cruncher scored the cup and champers prize with a poem about rehoming chickens from battery farms, winning over Jonathan’s ode to the doomed bit part characters from Hamlet, ‘Two Pricks in a Play.’

See all the pictures at http://www.flickr.com/groups/festivalchronicle

PS One of the poets got out a gun during his poem. NOT a good idea! Big worry it was for real. Writing about weaponry: good (see popular post What Gun Would Jesus Use). Actually waving a gun: bad.

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