Sunday, 2 June 2013

NEWS - Youth Slam at Strawberry Fair

Even though it was great to be part of the Allographic Spoken Word at Strawberry Fair, my favourite bit of this year's festival was the Youth Slam Competition.

Run by Page to Performance, the Strawberry Slam is a chance for young people to write their own poetry and perform it live on stage at the Strawberry Fair. This annual competition is open to poets aged between thirteen and twenty-five, and Page to Performance ran a series of workshops in local schools to get kids thinking about writing their own poetry for the show.

The results were amazing!

We had eight finalists on the night, half of whom had been involved in the poetry workshops through their secondary schools. We also had young people from across Cambridgeshire, with students from the university and local kids all vying for the chance to be crowned Strawberry Slam Champion 2013.

The standard of poetry was incredibly high, and the style and subject matter incredibly diverse. We were treated to poems about loneliness, bullying, racism, and war, as well as performances on the subjects of fairy tales, happiness, and disabilities.

Having been one of the finalists in last year's competition (and being too old to take part this time round) I was invited to be the sacrificial poet and scorekeeper for the event, and I'm so pleased to have shared the stage with so many talented people! All eight performers were fantastic, and every single one was worthy of the top prize!

But that's not how slams work!

This year, instead of a judging panel made up of professional poets, the scoring was delegated to the audience. Each of the five judges gave the young poets a score out of ten. Then, the top and bottom scores were discounted (to dissuade any would-be cheaters!) and each poet was left with a mark out of thirty. 

The final scores were so close!

Highly commended were Stacey Hubbard, Eleanor Sutcliffe (from Sawston Village College), Afrodita Nikolova, Jacob Hardwick (from Neal Wade College) and Hannah Jones (from Impington Village College).

Third place went to Lucy Bett (from Impington Village College) with her superb poem about emotions, while Courtney Henville came second with his amazing hip-hop inspired piece, Psychonautics.

But the clear winner was Cambridge undergraduate Charlotte Higgins, whose beautiful poems inspired by the stories of Cinderella and the Little Mermaid captivated the judges. She took first place with an incredible 27 out of 30 points!

As well as a pack of poetry goodies, Charlotte also wins the chance to perform as a featured artist at the next Hammer and Tongue poetry event at the Fountain Inn on Regent's Street, Cambridge, on Wednesday 12th June. It starts at 8:00pm, so don't be late! Hope to see you all there!

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