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Sunday, 12 May 2013

Slam, draw, slam, and get out of that emotional jam

On one side of town, on the sixth day of the twentieth Swindon Festival of Literature, for some, feelings were shaped into thoughts and thoughts were made into words and words forged into poems and poems put into performances and there was a Slam for the young and a Slam for the not so young; while on the other side of town, life drawing and live poetry readings and lively discussion made the afternoon for others.

The ninth Swindon Youth Slam provided ample evidence that words can be wings, a means of flight to a kind of freedom. Whether the young poets were airing grievances, against siblings or parents, or expressing delights, about fashion or friends, they all seemed to be freed by the process of writing and presenting their thoughts in verse. There was either an air of mischief or deep feeling in almost every poem performed, usually by a team of between two and four poets.

There was a brilliant and moving poem that was a tribute to a much-admired English teacher who had recently died too young but the winning poem, by Glam Girls and Jimmy, was altogether on a different tack. It addressed the question of what’s inside the mind of a teenage boy. The delightfully-talented trio introduced it with with a brief reassurance that had us in stitches. ‘This won’t take long.’ they said.

Later in the day, co-host Sara-Jane Arbury did a sterling job in warming up the grownup audience for the adult Slam, with Mexican waves and all, not stopping until she reached a point when she could confidently say, ‘You are now hot!’

And the poets were hot too. They gave us a night of terrific poetry. In their three minutes on stage, the fifteen contestants tackled more than fifteen topics. These included ladders, cup cakes, crotches, teen speak, mothers, crutches, asteroids, vaginas, and a Glaswegian dominatrix in Amsterdam.

The winner was Brenda Read-Brown from Tewksbury, one point ahead of Dave Viney from Salford, who was two points clear of Stephanie Chan from Singapore.

Life drawing and poetry with Suki was missed by me but seen by Michael, who reports on it thus.

Halfway, going strong, looking forward to more but little time to write.

Matt Holland
Photo credits: Richard Wintle – Calyx Multimedia