Last Saturday we ran our first ever online poetry slam, for Ironbridge Festival of the Imagination. Last year (those innocent pre-Covid days, remember them?) we held it in a surprisingly capacious and comfortable yurt by the River Severn. This year, we were sitting in front of a laptop with a pair of curtains as a backdrop, and running the whole thing via Zoom, but them’s the breaks.
Both years, we were lucky enough to be presiding over a slam packed to the gills with excellent poets. This year they were also sitting in front of their laptop/tablet/mobile phone, waiting to share their work, while our judges got ready to give their scores, and an audience of over sixty people munched on their popcorn and waited to see what would happen.
Like we say, our first online slam. There’s definitely a learning curve involved, and it’s somehow a lot more tiring running a slam online than in real life – although Dave Pitt, who didn’t have to run around collecting scores from judges, but had them pinged direct to him via WhatsApp, might disagree. Our poets were superb. Our judges, faultless. Our half-time ferrets, irresistible. And the slam itself?
Well, it was a rip-roaring success from start to finish. We were never able to tell which poets would come out victorious from their heat, and you can’t ask for more than that from a slam. When it came to the semi-finals and the final, we felt that any of the six poets involved were in with an excellent shout. Who’d be a judge, eh?
In the end, our winner – after a final packed with more drama than a box set of Eastenders – was poet Hannah Brockley, who bagged herself a paid gig at the Ironbridge Festival of the Imagination 2021. Our congratulations to her, and to Clive Oseman (2nd) and Colin Wells (3rd) for helping make the slam final such a close-run thing. Thanks to all the poets who took part, our judges for their sterling work, and Jon and Jodie from Telford and Wrekin Council for their support in putting the slam together.
We had an absolute blast. Here’s to more of the same.