The Winners of SLAMbassadors UK 2013 have been announced!

On September 24th 2013 the judges Joelle Taylor (Artistic Director and National Coach), Hollie McNish (spoken word icon) and Bea Colley (intrepid producer at the Southbank Centre) met in the Poetry Society studio to watch a shortlist of 33 films and select just 6 from that number to represent the UK.

After 8 hours of serious deliberation they came up with the following 6 young spoken word artists:


‘A beautiful, elegant writer of passionate free verse poetry that she breathes further life into on stage’. Nefeesa was also the overall winner of the Buckinghamshire Slam Championships, also organised by SLAMbassadors. She is a poet who will work well on both the stage and the page, and who will endure. Prepare to hear much more about her over the coming years. Get on the bad wagon now, before it leaves town without you.


A poem about a homeless man walked quickly past at the edge of a road. ‘Extraordinary use of metaphor, simile and wild, passionate imagery’ that immediately stunned and won over the judges. Jenny is also a winner of the prestgious Foyle Young Poet of the Year Awards – the most sought after competition for young page poets.  A remarkable achievement.


‘Dark, haunting, powerful, magnetic…’ These are just some of the words that go some of the way to explaining O’Neill’s writing and performance craft. Quite stunning. Her winning piece reflects on the names we are branded with, from school to the end of days. She speaks of these words and insults as thought hey are tattoos that we spend a life time trying to come to terms with and own. Dyke is a positive and power-filled poem that will inspire thousands of people to be proud of themselves and their journeys.

AAKIFAH ABOOBAKAR – ONE WORD. ONE NAME (film not available for public view)

Aakifah has chosen  not to share her film with the general public for religious reasons. As a devout Muslim she chooses to wear niqab when in the presence of men who are not from her family. Her winning poem details the reasons for this choice and literally had the judges on their feet from the first few lines. It is a strong and beautiful defence of all women who demand the right to choose what they wear. Stylistically her poem is full of stark images, internal rhymes and some serious hip-hop influenced flow.


Samilah is a writer of complexity, passion, fury and layers. Some of her lines literally had the judges slapping the tables. It is difficult to believe that she is only 14 years old and she has written something that helps to define life itself. The spoken word world needs artists like this.


Rose Ann has written some of the most confrontational and soul-ripping poetry we have ever heard. Her poem ‘She’ will be remembered for years and years to come. In our estimation it is one of the most profound pieces written by a young woman coming to terms with gender identity in 2013. Her use of language is powerful, heart breaking and imagistic beyond belief.

Joelle Taylor writes:

‘I cannot wait to meet this year’s winning SLAMbassadors UK solo slam team. It is always difficult if not heart breaking to whittle down such amazing and soulful entries to a small number, and the first thing I and the other judges want to do is to thank all of you for your bravery in entering. Whilst we know we have selected a very strong team this year, we also think of those who did not make the final cut and want as a group to encourage you to KEEP WRITING KEEP PERFORMING – and keeping sending me your films, and details about where you are performing and what you are doing. We exist to help all of you forward in your careers and not just those who will stand on the royal Festival Hall stage this November.

It may interest you to know that some of the Poet Coaches on the SLAMbassadors team never actually won a slam themselves – they just kept working hard, letting me know what they were doing, and improving their craft. That level of commitment is as valuable as a winning poem.

In the end we all win.

When the 6 winners make it down to London on October 31st to take part in the Master Class with me they will be joining a huge national team formed over 11 years. They will also be joining an ethic: that of unity no matter what race, creed, religion, sexuality or gender they are. We are united in poetry.’

Put this date in your diary:

November 1st 4pm Royal Festival Hall Clore Ballroom Free.

The event will also include a headline performance from

Hollie McNish & Joelle Taylor with special guests

plus live VJ projections from Ideas Tap young VJs Emily B and Naomi G (mentored by VJ Harper)  plus DJing from Hussain’s House.