Some of the best-known and most popular spoken word performers from all around the country have been battling it out for the title of Radio 4 Poetry Slam Winner 2007 in a series of nationwide heats and semi-finals. The final took place at the Arnolfini in Bristol on 13 September - a high-energy affair in front of an enthusiastic capacity audience. The judges included poets Matt Harvey and Sally Crabtree, Radio 4's Alison Crawford and two audience members chosen on the night.
Out of the six finalists, all three who went through to the second round gave storming performances, and the final scores were extremely close, Dizraeli winning over Kate Fox by a very narrow margin. Dizraeli's distinctive rap style was on display in his first poem. He then chose to shift mood for his second round into a moving elegy for a friend - a bold decision which may well have prompted the judges to give him the edge in terms of ambition and performance range.
The two semi-finals and the final were hosted by Dreadlock Alien - a popular poetry performer and slammer, and 2006's Birmingham Poet Laureate. Further information on Dreadlock Alien can be found at www.myspace.com/dreadlockalien
Tell me what a poetry slam is exactly
A slam is a knockout performance poetry competition in which poets perform their own work to a time limit and are given scores based on content, style, delivery and level of audience response. Over two or three rounds, poets are knocked out until one top scorer emerges as the winner. They're designed with audiences in mind, and their reaction to a poem can be a factor in how the judges score each poet. Poets are free to do work in any style on any subject: slams attract a wide range of performers and can encompass heartfelt love poetry, searing social commentary, uproarious comic routines, and bittersweet personal confessional pieces. What unites slammers is their attention to the dual skills of writing and performance.
A bit of history
Slams began in the United States in the 1980s. The slam scene quickly spread from cities like Chicago and New York, and is now thriving all around the world. There are hundreds of regular slams run in clubs, bars, pubs, theatres and at festivals all over Britain every year; the very best contemporary slam talent from the current scene will be highlighted in our three programmes as slam winners from all round the country pit their skills against each other.
Rules may vary from slam to slam, but the basic rules are:
Each poem must be of the poet's own construction.
Each poet gets a limited time to perform one poem per round (for the R4 slam, this is 2 minutes 15 seconds).
Of the scores the poet receives from the five judges, the high and low scores are dropped and the middle three are added together, giving the poet a total score for that round.
After each round the poets with the highest scores progress to the next round until a winner is determined.
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