The 9 national winners of SLAMbassadors UK, the country’s only talent scouting championship for spoken word artists, smashed the stage at the Drill Hall Showcase on March 6th! They had each spent the weekend in an intensive Master Class with poet and Artistic Director Joelle Taylor to help them fine tune their poetry and explore new forms and performance techniques.
The gig was HUGE. From the opening ‘Out in the streets they call it muuuuuuurder…’ to the final lines from Linton
Kwesi Johnson, the stage was ablaze – wtih talent, honesty, artistic integrity, beauty, violence and love. Poetry is intense. It is inspirational, and it is IMMENSE. Please do check out all of the winning poems, and show them to your children, your friends, a hidden writer you may have found.
The weekend was not just about creating powerful pieces for performance, but about introducing the young artists to a new and dynamic cultural network – the ‘slam-ily’ as one of the artists described it. This ‘slam-ily’ will share their writings with each other, advise each other on how to improve or add more tone to their work, tip each other off to opportunities, record together and share stages. The slam-ily that gigs together, stays together. Although the UK winners are separated by distance and differing cultural and social backgrounds, they are united by their words. And thanks to contemporary digital advances, they are also now linked via technology. Online mentoring will continue and monthly meetings are are being set up.
SLAMbassadors UK – whilst the first major youth slam in the country – has always been slightly different to its sister slams. We do not mark as stringently. It is impossible to lose points in our slam. We have stopped waggling score cards in the faces of terrified youth. Points are awarded according to how many hairs raise on outr arms when we see your films. Crucially, we do not slam after the championship closes – we are not about winning against other slam teams, but about continued professional development for the spoken word artists involved. You will see us at gigs. You will read our work in magazines and anthologies. Some of you will be in workshops facilitated by us. You may hear us on the radio or catch a glimpse on some late night television show. But our words will always be with you.