The Greatest Poetry Slam on Earth

GrahamstownIMG_7225 sits in a valley of mist in the Eastern Cape.  A few weeks ago Lebo Mashile and I attended the first ever South African National Poetry Slam Final.


We watched with widening eyes, mouths agape and speechless as the performers cast their spells.  A young man with  blood stained bandages round his head shook violently as  words wriggled from him.  Only his mouth was exposed.   It was the quality,  imagination, skill and truth that lifted us.   I learned about new ways to be on stage.  And the audiences went absolutely wild because of  delirium inducing words.  It was an unforgetable night. A glimpse of the future.

Shortly afterwards back in UK I judged the Cardiff international poetry competition – a poetry slam on paper – the future was glimpsed.   The third competition  was last night in England.   I judged The Roundhouse poetry slam with   Inua Ellams and Deanna Rodger.  One poem made me want to weep uncontrollably. The poetry model at the Roundhouse is working.  They’ve  -6graduated their slam poetry event to the  main venue.  An Alumni is emerging.  

The imagination is incredible.  Many say the imagination is not “real”. But how is anything built if not first imagined.

I wish for poets  to stop being literal, to stop thinking of what’s expected and to start finding the unexpected, to stop asking -7each other if they’re good and  start being good to each other.

Nobody can give a poet a voice  but we can help them discover and explore the one they have.   Read and watch all the work of   Tim Crouch.

In these three competitions of  three countries there is one common denominator. All the winners are women.



1 thought on “The Greatest Poetry Slam on Earth

  1. Really fantastic! And yes, we have to create from where we are, not be afraid to show what is or what could be, reality is ours to shape, all of us, imagination knows no bounds, we are such stuff as dreams are made of.

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