Sporting chances for slammers at St Andrews

Sunday 9 October 2011

MC Harry Giles

Saturday night’s Risk-a-Verse slam at the Byre Theatre, St Andrews had it all: high emotion, lots of laughs, bespoke prizes for the poets and nail-biting drama both on and off-stage.  One poet had come from Amsterdam to take part, three more found themselves stranded on the Forth Road Bridge in a go-slow traffic snarl-up  – would they or wouldn’t they make to the show on time?

Fifteen poets were set to take part in the StAnza/Inky Fingers slam.  Poetry competitions can be as fiercely contested as any, but this one, held as part of this month’s Scottish Mental Health Arts & Film festival (as well as fitting in with National Poetry Day and its Games theme), was billed as friendly and thanks to MC Harry Giles  (the M is for magnanimous) the fast-moving, electric atmosphere in the Studio Theatre was inspiring. Poets brought up all sorts of subjects: love, sex, anti-depressants, the Coalition Government, supermarkets, men who don’t dance… strong competition indeed and the judges, Sophie Baker and Young Hawkins, descending unashamedly into sporting cliché after the first half, agreed it was ‘all to play for, Harry.’

We were live-tweeting the event and at least one follower was keeping track of the slam while watching the X Factor, but the tensions were rising far higher in St Andrews. The audience had cast their votes, the judges were ready to confer – but would those last three poets make it over the bridge? Yes, following a flurry of texts and ‘where are you now?’ and with seconds to spare, all three arrived, performed their slots and marvelled at their good luck.

More drama as the play-offs started and first –time slammer, Stewart Hogg, emerged as a finalist – good poetry slams are made of such discoveries. Both he and the eventual winner Claire Askew (both pictured) were treated to rapturous applause. All the contestants were awarded prizes to match their poems: fudge for the sweetest poem, a Bart Simpson mug for the scariest, a torch for the flashiest … everyone was a winner. 

Our thanks to all the poets who took part Alec Beattie, Andy Jackson, Claire Askew, Stephen Welsh, Colin McGuire, Douglas John McLean Cairns, Jonny Lovett, Mairi Campbell Jack, Rose Fraser, Rory Woodroffe, Matt Macdonald, Stewart Hogg, Nicola Watt, Robin Smith and Gill Andrews, And of course to the enthusiastic audience.

Category: