Had an amazing time at the Bristol Poetry Slam last night. I didn’t really know what to expect as my only slam experience is the Exeter Poetry Slam and that strange one I did in Berlin where I was the only English speaker. I’d heard the Bristol event was huge. How right I was!
The quality of the poets was very high indeed. I’d been into Foyles book shop earlier in the day and picked up the festival brochure. Not only was I blown away by the fact that there was a picture of me on the second page, but that the entry list included Vanessa Kisuule, Steven Duncan, Tim Vosper and my good friend Samantha Boarer. So I knew it would be tough!
I sat with Sam on the front row and we chatted in order to forget just how nervous we were. Neither of us were called out in the first two groups. Then Sam went up and she did very well indeed, winning her group. I went up a couple of slots later and did The Straight Poem, which was amazingly well received. It’s a 2013 remix of the old poem and the new sections seemed to work really well. Not only did I go through to the next round, but I had the highest score of anyone so far!
I jiggled my order around and did The First Time next. It was my strongest poem and sure enough, it went down amazingly well. The audience cheered and clapped and stamped and it got a very good score putting me in to the final. Alas, Tim and Samantha fell at this stage, and I was up against Steven Duncan, who was just sublime all evening. He managed to get through to the final even with having points deducted for running over his time!
He won the toss and went first. His poem was remarkable and it received full marks from every judge. I knew then that I could not possibly emulate this. I thought of doing Fozzie, but this had subject matter close to my other two poems and I didn’t want to be typecast. I thought of The Old Lady and The Fly, but this didn’t seem right. So I went with Beard Envy. It got me the strongest haul of points of the night, but just missed out.
Steven was a deserving and popular winner and I was more than happy with second place. We went for a drink afterwards and chatted and I felt really good at having made some new friends and seen some inspiring poets. And it was a damn good practice season for Cheltenham next weekend!
And tomorrow is the Exeter Poetry Slam, which I’m judging. So I was left with this one thought: Just four points separated me from being Exeter and Bristol slam champions at the same time, if only for a day!