There can be only one – Swindon Slam!

8 May

First off, a massive congratulations to all who took part in the Swindon Slam! this year (and every year). Everyone who took part wrote a credible piece of poetry and for some it was pouring their souls out on stage. In competitions if you win, or come in the top three, it’s the best feeling in the world, but if you lose it can be very demotivating. So I’m going to say, keep going! You are fantastic, want to hear more!

There were 15 amazing competitors this year, which equalled 29 diverse poems under three minutes or less – including those by comperes – mostly performed with aplomb.

Yes there were poems about beverages and love and references to dead famous poets, and poems about poems or not writing poems or taking part in competitions with poems (like this one).

There were also poems about war, bombings, addiction, the environment and Professor Brian Cox (of course).

Compere Sarah Jane Arbury was in pun-paradise with her legendary on-the-hoof intros to second round poets and finalists. She’s been doing this for 20 years, you know, ever since the first Swindon Slam! You too, Sarah Jane, keep on going. Co-compere Steve Rooney entertained with a love poem in management speak and a total lack of chocolate throwing ability.

Lena Batchelor opened the competition with a poem about a shit boyfriend and Joy-Amy Wigman closed it with a poem about a shit boyfriend. Al Brunker cleverly compares his partner to a really good book (ahhh), ‘my beautiful book / I’m just a few pages in.’ Tim King’s was, I think, another love poem of sorts, possibly from an Orwellian security camera. It was hard to tell because it was in text speech and letters, etc which is hard for a person like me who has trouble spelling out aloud b-e-d-t-i-m-e when they don’t want their three-year-old to know what they’re talking about.

Joy-Amy combined beverages and love in her poetic barista crush. In his intro read by compere Sarah Jane, Peter McDade spoke of his escape from a ‘maximum security twilight prison in Cheltenham’ by which I think he meant sheltered accommodation, where old ladies moon over Prof Brian Cox much to Peter’s annoyance ‘I dreamed you were stroking Schrodinger’s cat / I was the pussy in the willing box’. I think he thinks PBC is a bit of a science charlatan.

David Johnson did the beverage one, ‘so many ways to drink a coffee bean / don’t you wish you knew what they mean?’

Then there was the serious stuff. Sarah Snell-Pym ranted at the government, ‘suicidal teens don’t get much deader.’ London-Swindonian Katherine T Owen spoke about an imaginary thread that held her back then helped her to fly. Brummie-Swindonian Clive Oseman was cross and very eloquent about the short cultural memories of the 1974 Birmingham pub bombings. Nick Lovell emotively told us how he held the hand of a dying soldier and how war, ‘taught me how to follow fools and never question why’. Andy Brown, a former inmate and addict from Bristol’s deprived suburb Knowle West, shared his gambling addiction, his ‘ringing rage and rueful regret’ the ‘addiction a fiction of lies and friction’. The glam Maggie C described, ‘that man on the street so dejected and torn you’re part of the street army pushing along.’

Alexander Rhodes showed off his DJ Producer skills in a rap-style poem that combined comedy and pathos, Nana’s Delight (refing Rapper’s Delight by The Sugarhill Gang) about a fly grandma who felt she was past her sell-by date, goin’ on n n on n on n n on, ‘Sitting there in her rocking chair, rocking to the beat.’ ‘Knit one pearl one, knit one, drrrrrop!’

Wanda Okoe wrote about writing poems and things lost, ‘My thoughts form bubbles and pop / RIP to the poems not written, lost to the bathroom walls’. Kathak dancer, Hermanie Aguwa, spoke of ‘dreaming of youth and waiting for death’ and how good we are at making museums.

The semi-finals saw the return of Al, Tim, Alexander, Joy-Amy, Wando and David. Alexander’s anger about the environment ended on a Prince quote (purple salute to you) and Tim’s mermaid-octopus couplings were in words of seven letters only. Wando spoke about her hips post-childbirth and Joy-Amy about avoiding childbirth and how pregnancy tests don’t tell you who the father is. David imagined famous dead poets at a Swindon Slam! and Al declared ‘I’ve got a high vis jacket’ and the officious delights of high vis-dom.

Joy-Amy and Al went through to the final, with Joy-Amy’s aforementioned shit boyfriend and Al’s four-day-old neglected crusty snot, post-coital tissue that wreaks its revenge in bits in the washing machine.

It feels a bit of guilty pleasure to reward poems about life’s fluff over deeper and powerfully-written stuff about bombs, war and suicidal teens, but perhaps I can offer this insight: the winning poets knew their poems off by heart, gave a spirited performance and, ultimately, the audience seem to like poetry slams to be a night of stand-up.

Plus writing about high vis jackets and wronged tissues is pretty original.

Swindon Slam! was held at Swindon Arts Centre as part of Swindon Festival of Literature, 7 May 2016.

Poetry Swindon has regular open mic nights, find out about them here,

Chronicle written by Louisa Davison.

Louisa Davison is the founder of Festival Chronicle and is also known as Agent Louisa of Secret Agent Marketing.

3 Responses to “There can be only one – Swindon Slam!”

  1. Festival Chronicler 13th May 2016 at 10:07 am #



  1. Snell-Pym » Slams and Other News - 13th May 2016

    […] I came second from last!). But I do tend to get myself mentioned in news papers with poems that are "rants against the government", even if they can't spell my name right (newspapers never get my name right! or if they do they […]

  2. Turquoise Monster » Blog Archive » Slams and Other News - 13th Jul 2016

    […] I came second from last!). But I do tend to get myself mentioned in news papers with poems that are “rants against the government”, even if they can’t spell my name right (newspapers never get my name right! or if they do […]

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