Sunday, 5 October 2014

SUNDAY NIGHT NEWS - National Poetry and the Hammer and Tongue Slam


Hello stranger. Long time, no see.

Listen, I'm sorry that I haven't written in a while. Things have been crazy busy here at Poetry Towers over the last couple of weeks, and I just haven't had the time to sit down and catch my breath! But I'm here now. And I've got so much to tell you!

Firstly, I expect you're keen to find out how I got on at the National Final of the Hammer and Tongue Poetry Slam? Well...

The Venue

It was an incredible day! The show included twenty four fantastic poets and performers, all vying for the title of Hammer and Tongue Slam Champion, and they were all amazing! I particularly enjoyed Torrey Shineman's witty commentary on sex and body image, Tina Sederholm's wry advice to the parents of poets, and Sara Hirsch's wonderful poem about explaining her work to people at parties. (She's a children's entertainer - NOT a clown!)

Other highlights included Stewart Taylor's performance piece, which detailed the perils of the 'deep web', and Miko Berry's beautiful alternative love poem. Justina Kehinde - my fellow Cambridge Hammer and Tongue winner - was brilliant too, and her piece about black female identity was particularly stunning to witness. 

So who won in the end? Well - for the first time in Hammer and Tongue history - the final produced two joint winners! Vanessa Kisuule and Leyla Josephine were both really worthy recipients of the prize, and I'm really excited to see what they each do next! 


Doing my thing on stage
As for me? Well, I managed to remember my poem all the way through, and I think I gave the best performance I could. Unfortunately, I didn't make it past the quarter finals, but I'm still pretty pleased with how it went. After all, it's not every day you get to perform at the Royal Albert Hall in front of five hundred people! 

It's also been a busy week for poets up and down the country, as Thursday was National Poetry Day! Hoorah! I celebrated the occasion by hosting the first of my National Poetry Day workshops, in partnership with the Cambridgeshire Library Services.

I spent the afternoon with a fantastic group of people, exploring the themes of memory and remembrance through a series of poetry exercises. I even brought along some props to help get the creative juices flowing, and spark ideas for writing!


Poetry Props

It was a really lovely way to spend an afternoon, and the workshop produced some genuinely great poetry.

In fact, I think the theme and the structure of the workshop would really suit as an activity for retirement homes, and I'm definitely considering expanding these workshops into these spaces in the future. 

My next National Poetry Day workshop is taking place at the Chatteris Library on Tuesday 8th October at 2pm. There are still a couple of spaces available, and it would be truly lovely to see some of you there!

Then on Saturday, I trundled off to St Ives (the one in Cambridgeshire, not the one in Cornwall) to participate in the St Ives National Poetry Day open mic event. The evening was hosted by the current Poet Laureate for St Ives, Mr Chris Morgan, and myself and Elaine Ewart had both been invited to give short performances as part of the festivities.

It's always a little nerve-racking, performing in an unfamiliar town, but luckily for us the show was well-attended and the audience was warm and enthusiastic. I particularly enjoyed hearing Elaine perform from her Fur, Feather and Fen collection, and I was really impressed by the wonderful selection of poems performed on the night.

In fact, I had a fantastic evening, and I hope to be back in St Ives again very soon!

This week, I'm working an exciting new project, which I hope to be able to tell you about soon. Keep your eyes peeled for updates! 

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