The second semi-final for this year's Roundhouse Poetry Slam was held last night in Camden in North London. And it was amazing!
It was my first time performing in London and I was really impressed by the standard of competition. Every poet who performed was excellent; I'm glad I was judging the competition!
There were fourteenth slammers, each performing two poems, one before the interval and one after the interval. The atmosphere was electric, and the crowd were incredibly enthusiastic which made the idea of going up on stage - in front of the biggest crowd I've ever faced - slightly less daunting.
All of the poets were amazing, and it was great to see such a vast range of talent on offer. There were funny poets and serious poets, beats poets and more traditional poets. There were rhyming poems, rhythmic poems, prose poems; poems about war and abortion, poems about earthworms and drunk-dialling.
It was an incredible night.
Unfortunately, I didn't get through to the finals, and I'd be lying if I said I wasn't disappointed. But every single winner last night thoroughly deserved a place in that final. It's very hard to feel anything but immense pleasure at being part of something so great!
I'm very smug that I managed to remember all the words to my two poems - as it was the very first time I'd ever gone 'off book'. In the past, I've always had my trusty notebook in my hand when performing, acting as a sort of safety net. But it's great to know that I can memorise and recite, and I'll definitely be learning more of my poems for the Hammer and Tongue Semi-Finals in September.
For me, the best thing about last night was the chance to get together with like-minded people and hang out. I only wish I had spoken to more of the poets performing, but my guts were in knots with all the nerves!
It was also a great chance to get some feedback from the judges, who are all professional poets with years of writing and performing experience. Polarbear, who was introducing the show, was really helpful. He said that I need to make my poems more personal in order to connect more with the audience.
Inua Ellams was fantastic, and gave me a signed copy of his latest collection for free, saying that he really enjoyed my performance. What a lovely thing to do! Plus, the signed message was personalised too. I really can't wait to read the whole collection!
Kat Francois said she really enjoyed my stuff. (She actually said I was f*cking hilarious, which is such an amazing compliment!) She said she liked my quirkiness and the content of my poems, but, in order to improve I need to work on my delivery. I know that 'owning the stage' is something that I haven't yet had the confidence to do, so I'm going to take her advice, trust in the material and work on projection, diction and movement.
Another great thing about the night was just how friendly and supportive the audience were! So many people came up to me in the interval and after the show to say how much they enjoyed the performance. And the crowd laughed and cheered in all the right places when I was speaking on stage, so that's fantastic.
I must stop writing or I'll be gushing about it forever - but I'm really grateful to have been chosen to perform in the semi-finals and the whole experience has given me a taste for performing in the capital. Watch out London!
The final of the Roundhouse Poetry Slam takes place on Wednesday 29th August at 7.30pm at the Roundhouse in Camden in North London and tickets are just £4. I strongly urge you to go along; you definitely won't regret it!