Having won two years in a row, Nottingham played host to this year’s worldwide Slamovision poetry competition. Could we make it a hat-trick?
On a Tuesday this December, twelve of the world’s greatest poets come together to celebrate the wonders of slam poetry. The Slamovision competition, now in its fifth year, is a UNESCO Cities of Literature event, and its contestants hail from literature-obsessed cities from all over the globe.
We’re joined in the room with live performances from Nottingham’s finalist Annie Cross (of course) but also those from Exeter, Manchester and Vilnius, Lithuania… then, together on the big screen come the finalists from Ljubljana, Melbourne, Iowa, Reykjavik, Québec City, Tartu, and Kuhmo.
I’ll admit, when the voting begins, I feel somewhat sceptical. Art is subjective. How can someone be the best? But when the votes start coming in all doubts are silenced - every poem is at least one city’s favourite.
That’s the beauty of poetry. And even when there are only a couple of votes left to go, things are incredibly tight - five cities are still in with a chance of taking home the Slamovision crown. Vilinius is the last city to cast their vote. As, one by one, the scores are announced on that big Metronome screen, I can see everyone trying to work the maths out in their head. Then: “Please, welcome to the stage, Esther Koch, our 2023 Slamovision Champion!”
A poet born and bred in Manchester, Esther Koch’s winning poem Taurean at the Nightclub, is an incredible exploration of trauma, astrology, tarot cards and nightclub culture. After two years holding the crown, it’s only fair for Nottingham to send it up north for a bit.
But we still leave feeling excited. Annie Cross is most definitely one to watch. An NTU creative writing student, Annie writes heartfelt poems about her family and friends, magical short stories that are inspired by The Twilight Zone, and she’s currently working on her first novel.
Her heat-winning poem, Father’s Daughter, is an ode to her dad and the similarities they share. It was beautiful and sad the first time I heard her recite it, in a recording on YouTube, but when she performs it on the day, with her dad in the crowd, I can barely breathe.
There were also fantastic performances from last year’s winner, Abíọ́dún 'Abbey' Abdul, and standout music and verse from Notts artists Daudi Matsiko, Chris Oliver, Ben Macpherson, and Ioney Smallhorne. With talent like that, we know without a shadow of a doubt that the Slam will return to where it belongs.
Slamovision took place at Metronome on Tuesday 5 December 2023
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