UoB Thrash Cambridge at Poetry Slam

A poetry competition saw Brum students beat Cantabs.

The Bristol Pear is a regular haunt for all things artsy. And this week it was time for a spot of poetry, as UoB, Pembroke College (Cambridge) and Coalition Of Wordsmiths went head-to-head in a multi-team poetry slam.

Wham Bam Thank-You Slam!

Here’s how it goes. There are four team members who recite two poems each over eight rounds. The first round is fronted by a non competing fifth poet. Ben Jackson, Brum’s sacrificial poet, should be commended for fueling the night’s pace with ‘Write Me In Your Diary.’ Delivering it to only one audience member set up an intimate rapport between performer and audience.

UoB’s James Grady’s ‘Crossword’ followed suit. His opening line, “I want to do you like a crossword,” was perfectly delivered with the performative bolshiness of an ill-planned declaration of love. Laced with innuendo, it was humorous while simultaneously exploring the difficulty of expressing the attachment of a relationship by the word ‘love’.

Although the colour card voting system that ended each round felt a bit like the end of a Ready Steady Cook episode, the performers more than made up for it.

Pembroke team member Tiffany Kang stole the night away with ‘Genesis’, an emotionally challenging poem about a cauliflower cheese bake. The line, ‘You are who you were before you stopped wanting to be,’ resonated with an audience of students who fear uncertain futures and the prospect of growing up.

UoB’s Lily Blacksell

Unfortunately, Pembroke’s Phoebe Power’s performance jarred. While ‘Dido and Aneas’ was rich in metaphor, it would have been more fitting inside a veiled melodrama than the sticky Bristol Pear. But maybe we didn’t get it because we don’t all go to Cambridge, or whatever.

The Brummie crowd enjoyed watching the lives of the living unfurl on stage, especially Ben Norris’ ‘Disaster Sex’, which ultimately clasped the victory for the UoB team.

It seems bad sex makes for winning poetry

Ben Norris didn’t conform to the stereotype of poetry being pretentious, instead voicing his  idea that it’s OK to screw up, obsess and celebrate our failures. And that’s exactly what we needed: a reminder that there you can find beauty in imperfection.