I performed at a Poetry Slam and it was incredible

There were hundreds of people

On most Thursday evenings, some of Edinburgh’s most gifted wordsmiths come together to perform poetry at Pleasance Cabaret Bar.

Last week it was the special ‘January Poetry Slam’ where the winner got entered into the next month’s natural competition.

Many of those who took part were not students and were actually seasoned performers. But I wasn’t told this.

I was duped into thinking that it was just going to be a couple other students performing in front of no more than 40 people. In actual fact there were 10 other excellent poets, less than half were students, and I was performing in front of hundreds of people.

So many people

There was a real mix in content. Some poems were emotional and concerned subjects such as suicide whilst others were more jovial and entertaining.

Most of the competitors were regular performers, including second year psychology & philosophy student, Scott Redmond. Scott, like most of the others, has been taking part most weeks since September.

Scott said: ” I slam maybe once or twice a month, but perform at other poetry events a couple of times a week generally.

“I’ve been doing stand-up comedy for the past couple of years since I was about 16, and often included comedic poetry in that, then I heard about the kind of audiences slams got and realised I could be getting even more attention.”

The actual writing of my ‘poem’ took hours. I initially wanted to write a poem called ‘The Hangover Games’ which would have been about three flatmates with a hangover, with the winner being the first to rid themselves of the hangover. One of my friends pointed out to me that there was actually a film with the same title, so I decided to write something else.

Someone who watches poetry slams quite often told me to write about something that means a lot to me. So I decided, as a theology student and an Arsenal fan, to write one comparing being an Arsenal fan to a religious experience. 

Here’s a snippet of the poem:

The clock ticks, time is running out, their prayers have been unanswered.

Another year without silverware, why do they bother? 

Eloi eloi lama sabachthami, Wenger! Wenger! why have you forsaken me?”

The moments building up to the performance was terrifying. Although the crowed was friendly, there were so many people and I’m not used to performing in shows of any kind. To make me more nervous, the people who went before me were incredible so I was worried I’d embarrass myself by noticeably being a lot worse than them.

Three Carlsbergs later, I was ready to go up. When I was reading my poem out (I wasn’t brave enough to recite it from memory), I genuinely really enjoyed it. Most people clapped and even got a few laughs from some people who weren’t my friends.

Scott eventually came third

The atmosphere was friendly, with Scott saying:

“It’s a generally nice atmosphere than stand-up, like the other acts and the crowd more supportive. There’s also the added bonus that I can tell a joke and if it doesn’t get a laugh then hey, it’s still poetry.”

The evening was surprisingly great fun – I’d highly recommend checking it out. The slams are on Thursdays at Pleasance.