Monday, 21 September 2015

MONDAY NIGHT NEWS – Superheroes of Slam and Nottingham Playhouse Open Day

Hello! This week I've been doing a little bit of poetry-based travelling...

On Thursday evening I ventured out of Nottingham, motoring down the A46 to take part in the Superheroes of Slam competition at the Attenborough Arts Centre at the University of Leicester.

Having booked myself a doctor’s appointment for the same afternoon, it was all a big of a manic dash to get to Leicester on time. But, after getting to the doctor's fifteen minutes late, and going the wrong way round Leicester's one way system, I still somehow managed to get to the gig with five minutes to spare! (And without resorting to speeding! Result!)

In case you've ever heard of it, I can tell you that Superheroes of Slam is part of a national slam poetry competition, which seeks to uncover the best performance poets in the UK. Each of the eight heats produce one regional winner, and those winners then compete at the grand final in Manchester. The overall winner gets to take home the the Dike Omeje Slam Poetry Trophy 2015.

It's kind of a big deal. 

The Leicester heat was organised by the inimitable Carol Leeming, with the very excellent Rob Gee as host on the night. With nineteen poets competing, four expert judges doing the judging, and about fifty poetry-lovers in the audience, it was a really great atmosphere! 

We were each given three minutes to wow the judges, who marked us on our writing and performance.

I was really impressed by the standard of the poetry in the first round. The competition was fierce, with loads of great performances on a wide variety of topics and in a hugely varied number of styles. Many of the performers were really polished, and although it was clear that many of the poets really wanted to win, everyone was incredibly friendly, which really helped to calm my nerves!

After the first round was over, and everyone had performed their first poems, Rob Gee kept us in suspense, waiting until after the intermission to announce the six finalists. Everyone was on tenterhooks to find out, but the six poets who made it through were Tony Le Tigre, Jenny Hibberd (Hibword), Andrew Lee, Shruti Chauhan, Toby Campion, and me!

So that was exciting!

The other finalists were all pretty incredible, but in the end Tony Le Tigre’s brilliant ode to toast came third, and Shruti Chauhan’s hilarious lovelorn ‘Why Don’t You Like Me?’ came second.

But it was the animated performance and pitch-perfect rhyming of Jenny Hibberd that won the most points from the judges. Jenny’s poems fizzle with excitement, and her dramatic and engaging performance style really impressed the audience. She was definitely the right choice to win, and she goes on to represent the East Midlands in Manchester in October.

Knock 'em dead, Jenny!

You can get tickets to the final of the Superheroes of Slam HERE.

I came fifth overall, and I’m pretty happy with that. I didn’t forget any of my words (which is always a worry for me) I met loads of really awesome poets, and got to hear some pretty incredible spoken word poetry!

What more could you possibly want on a Thursday evening?!

Then, on Sunday afternoon, I was invited along to the Nottingham Playhouse Open Day to do a set as part of their live music and poetry showcase.

I actually met Henry (who was curating the day’s events) at the Stuff of Life Festival earlier in the month, when he and his partner came to watch the DIY Poets perform in someone’s back garden as part of the festivities.

It's a small world!

Anyway, the Nottingham Playhouse Open Day attracted nearly five hundred people over the course of the seven hour day, with oodles of live music, magic and science exhibitions, face painting and theatrical make-up demonstration throughout the day, as well as backstage tours and theatre workshops and performances.

The theatrical make-up seemed especially popular, with lots of small children running around with ridiculously realistic looking wounds and scars. It was all very Friday the Thirteenth!

I performed my poetry in the courtyard in front of the Playhouse, in the shadow of the Sky Mirror sculpture by Anish Kupoor. (Such an awesome place to perform!)


Despite the stage being on a busy thoroughfare, the gig still went pretty well, with a good sized audience and some lovely feedback at the end of the show.

In fact, I really enjoyed watching all the programmed acts, especially Tash Bird and I Am Stars, who were both absolutely brilliant!

There were also some great quirky things going on, like wheely bin painting and a human fruit machine, as well as a tricycle ice cream stall!

All in all, it was a pretty awesome afternoon out, and I hope I can go back to the Playhouse again soon!

I've also been chatting to the lovely folk at the Malt Cross this week, to discuss the idea of running some spoken word events in their beautiful nineteenth century Music Hall. Watch this space for more information, coming soon!

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