The Roundhouse Poetry Slam is one of the finest slams the UK has to offer. This year the panel included some of the most respected names in spoken word: Kat Francois (Guess Radio), Dan Cockrill (Bang Said the Gun) and lingual contortionist David J (Random Acts, Channel 4). Having attended and reviewed Roundhouse slams previously we came to watch this year with trepidation, hoping that we hadn’t overhyped the possibilities. Luckily we encountered a pool of potential and most importantly amidst that potential there were stars. Whilst some arrived on the scene with room to grow, others exploded on the scene fully formed and waiting to be discovered. As Poejazzi is all about showcasing and investing in the future of spoken word, we’re going to talk about the people we would book in a heartbeat, the ones we think you should watch out for and why you’ll fall in love with what they do. Here’s our supergroup: the ones who won in our heads even if they didn’t win the trophies:
Kareem Parkins Brown aka Kuaint is a member of the Young Barbican Poets and was also shortlisted in the Stanza Digital Slam earlier this year. On Wednesday his poem transformed the elderly into a “Grey Gang”: a sector of society you should respect and fear. It was a breath of fresh air; defying categories people will find too easy to assign to him. He may be dealing with everyday topics but his deft, sensitive and hyper imaginative wordplay transcends the urban tag. The perfect combination of cool and clever minus the kind of linguistic geekery that goes completely over peoples’ heads, Kuaint approached the slam final with a swagger and mature assurance that you have to experience in person to get the full impression of what he’s capable of and how bright his future is.
The Next Who?: If Jay Electronica was a poet (he is of course in the eyes of many) Kuaint would be on his way to vying for his crown (and according to the Daily Mail he’d probably be too busy shooting clay pigeons in his tweeds to notice anyway)
David Cumming aka (who came 2nd place) is an up and coming actor/performance poet/comedian who has recently been working on a project at the National Theatre Studio under the tutelage of Poejazzi’s very own Inua Ellams. However on Wednesday he appeared as his persona Cheryl Dole: the incarnation of Cheryl Cole’s Geordie ghetto past. Every obscene rant against gender relations, society, government and dodgy nightlife encounters had the audience rooting for David’s perfectly tuned characterisation of the everywoman people in ordinary circumstances love to hate. On a rerun of “Ibiza Uncovered” or on the 2am night bus Cheryl Dole might be the enemy, however, on Wednesday night she became the aggressive and righteous voice of reason. Gasp inducing, offensive and gloriously satisfying to watch; Cummings’ characterisation has cult viewing written all over his acrylic nails.
The Next Who?: No one…Cheryl Dole is a one time deal. (not one of those one time only deals in the shop that’s been closing down for 3 years, the real kind)
Having seen Jack previously at Camp Bestival we expected a high level of performance from one of the most unique and instantly likeable new poets on the scene. He didn’t disappoint, because Jack knows his strengths, which seem to lie in his confessional style of relating his experiences with family, friends and most powerfully with grief. He explored this again in the slam final, weaving pathos and hilarity in a way that belies his years. Jack is a gifted story teller who understands how to deliver an intense emotional impact with the least amount of schmaltz. Expect to see much more from Jack (namely because we’re going to make sure of it!…cue epic evil laugh)
The Next Who?: John Osborne
Very Honorable Mentions:
Laurie Bolger: The multiple slam winner and poetry editor for Camden Radio delivered super funny anecdote poems about ingesting persil and another about the perils of venturing to Shoreditch and abandoning your local pub. Great timing, straight talking, a woman after my own heart.
Katherine Deal: Katherine is simply lovely. Her work is full of hope and inspiration. She was emotive with a stillness that is rare and very intriguing and we look forward to seeing much more of her work and performances.
Finally check out Roundhouse Poetry Slam’s 2012 winner Hibaq Osman and her sensitive exploration of losing a loved one as a young person.