Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Sara Hirsch and this blog is all about poetry….
Congratulations, if you are still reading this it means you are interested in the wonderful world of poetry slam and therefore my kind of person. If you carried on reading because you aren’t quite sure what a poetry slam is then firstly, where have you been on the first Thursday of the month for the past two years? But secondly, don’t worry, I will explain.
Poetry slams are competitive spoken word events celebrating one of the coolest underground movements combining storytelling, rap and performance poetry. Originating in North America in the early 80s slams now occur all over the world and from the first Thursday in February yours truly will be taking over the best free 3 round slam in London; the Genesis Cinema Slam.
So, who am I? You may know me from the box office, the popcorn Kiosk or the bar at Genesis, I am the one in the glasses with the short hair who often tweets puns from the cinema’s account. But as well as working for East London’s trendiest independent cinema I am also a writer and performance poet. After forging a career as a spoken word artist I began to compete in slams across the country, including the Genesis slam and was lucky enough to get some titles to my name, including being named the Hammer and Tongue National Slam runner up, the BBC Slam sacrificial Poet and the 2013 UK Slam Champion culminating in coming third in the World Slam Championships and a semi finalist in the European Slam Championships last year. I then started to host the Hammer and Tongue Camden Slam (a partner of the Genesis Slam) and after the sad departure of Rachel Fox, the previous Genesis Slam coordinator I now run the Cinema Slam which is both an honour and a delight.
Talking about myself is always weird so to find out more have a look on my website www.sarahirsch.wordpress.com or watch me in action below.
So, enough about me and more about the slam, after all that’s what this blog is about. So, how does it work exactly?
Well, the slam is open to anyone, from rappers to poets and everything in between. Slammers can either sign up in advance or just turn up and each slammer will then have 3 minutes and 30 seconds to wow the audience, as well as the 5 randomly selected judges picked on the night, with their words. The only rules are; no props and no offensive material and once the poet has been scored out of 10 and any points deducted for going over time, we take the 3 middle scores as an average and poets battle it out to get through to the final.
The 4 top scorers from the first two rounds are chosen and from them we repeat the process to find the winner. Simple. The mantra when doing slams is “it’s not about the points, it’s about the poetry” and so we never take the scoring too seriously, after all how can you really judge art? Having said that the lucky winner is awarded the monthly title, an awesome prize of cinema tickets and a meal for two and goes through to the grand final at the end of the year, the winner of which represents Genesis at the Hammer and Tongue National Slam Final at the Royal Albert Hall!
So, have I gripped you yet? I should hope so, but if not allow me to mention a few of the other wonderful things about this monthly event. Number one….the pies. Now, as a Genesis employee I can tell you that there is nothing more tempting than the smell of a freshly cooked Pieminister pie. Well actually there is….the cocktails. The Slam takes place in Bar Paragon and if the pies aren’t your thing then the beautifully prepared cocktails will be and they are both available throughout the night to accompany the array of words being performed for your listening pleasure. As well as the refreshments we will have the odd special guest, a welcoming host and as much popcorn as you want available from the kiosk and did I mention that the slam is a free event with comfy sofas and candlelit tables? Well now I have. Sounds great doesn’t it!
The Genesis Slam was my favourite monthly slam in London ages before I took the job there and became as biased as I am now. I say this because it is friendly, fun and free and that is a winning combination in my book. I am really excited to be taking it over and we have some awesome stuff planned for 2015. All we really need now is an audience and this is where you come in.
We are re-launching the slam on 5th February and we would love to see as many of the cinema regulars as possible (that’s you lot!) in the crowd. If you love spoken word then you won’t need any more convincing. If you’re curious about what it is then this is the night to come to experience some beautiful, funny and moving poetry from the comfort of a lovely cocktail bar and if you are seriously doubting why anyone would sit and listen to poetry for 3 hours on a Thursday allow us to demonstrate while you enjoy a delicious hot dog and a pint of Peroni.
Watch this space for more Poetry Slam news and see you on the 5th February at 7.30pm in Bar Paragon for some witty and wonderful words and some seriously sensational slamming!