Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Yate Primary Schools Slam 2015

Libraries are generally fairly quiet, backwatery places - at least they're supposed to be - but this morning Yate Library rocked to the sound of Year 5 pupils from three local primary schools, Abbotswood, Tyndale and Woodlands, participating in the Yate Schools Poetry Slam, under the tutelage of superhero poets, Claire Williamson, Glenn Carmichael and Jonny Fluffypunk.

I had the pleasure of being one of the judges, along with Colin Brown of Poetry Can, who organised the event, and Leeds-based writer and performer, Liza Sylvian.  

The hardest thing about being a slam judge is remembering that when you hold up the numbers, you have to ensure they're the wrong way around, otherwise you might inadvertently give a team 19 points when you meant to award them 91. 

After the professional poets performed their sacrificial poems - a chance for members of the audience to appreciate that under the rules of poetry slamming they are not just allowed but required to make as much noise as possible, and for the judges to give poor marks and be roundly booed - the poetry proper began, and what a treat it was.  Four teams from each school gave their all, and judging the winners was a very close run thing indeed. 

In the end, a team from Abbotswood Primary School scored the highest mark with their poem about a homeless street sweeper, while the teams from Tyndale Primary School scored the highest aggregate mark, but it was so so close, with only one point separating the other two schools, hard on Tyndale's heels.  

I really hope that all the pupils who took part, as well as the members of the audience who clapped, whooped, cheered and poetry-gasped so effectively, were very proud of themselves and will take into their future lives the notion that poetry can be liberating and fun.  

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