What an incredible year this has been.
The SLAMbassadors Poet Coaches spent most of it travelling across schools, colleges, youth centres and youth offending institutions, performing and leading workshops in an effort to talent scout the next generation of spoken word artists. And in spite of ciuts to the creative curriculum in schools it seemed to us that every other young person we met was a poet. sometimes they wrote emcee bars, sometimes they wrote free verse. Mostly, they wrote themselves.
In September the entries began flooding in, crashing my email account several times. Even to the last second, films were being forwarded to me. Each one a life story. A plan. A manifesto. A passport. A statement of intent.
On October 1st the judges met in the studio of the Poetry Society, battling cold viruses and London transport to make some of the hardest decisions in the 15 year history of the slam. Anthony Anxagorou was the lead judge this year – and will be our headline act at the final showcase in the Royal Festival Hall on Ocotber 25th (4-7pm).
After much lip biting, arguing, coffee, and tongue pacing we came up with these 7 who will now form the UK Solo Slam Team:
Abi Cooke – Metamorphosis
Jay Hulme – I Am A Man
Ruth Awolola – Sorry
Damayanti Chatterjee – House of Words
Georgie Smith – Poem
Damilare Haastrup – Mascara
Issy Prior – Time Passing
Click on the video below to scroll through the playlist.
As well as the overall winners we have made some commendations which will also be presented after the performance at the Royal Festival Hall. These are the ones to watch out for over the coming year, many of whom will be hitting stages even as I write this. It is an exciting time for spoken word. We are on the television again and on the radio. We are profiled in the media. But there will never be anything more important and fundamental than a poem that reaches in and plucks out the heart of the nation. These seven represent the hundreds queuing up behind them, and we hope that they will act as an inspiration to you.
Remember: poetry is not the new rock and roll.
It was here centuries before.