Saturday, 5 July 2014

Portsmouth Poetry Slam

My friend Dan is the Community Engagement Officer at the National Museum of the Royal Navy in Portsmouth and he's running a poetry slam. I thought it only right to find out more.

So you're organising a poetry event, Dan – what, where and when?

Dan: The event is called: HMS - Hear my Story Poetry slam. Where: National Museum of the Royal Navy Portsmouth. When 9th October, 6.30pm – 8.30pm

What exactly is a poetry slam?

Dan: A slam is the competitive art of performance poetry. Participants (single performers or groups) perform their original work and are judged by members of the judging panel. Typically, the host selects the judges, who are instructed to give numerical scores (between 0 and 10) based on the poet's content and performance. The audience’s job is to keep the mood supportive, energetic and encouraging to all participants

For our poetry slam, people will be able to explore the stories within the HMS –hear my story gallery before they are invited to spend time creating their own pieces. They will then compete in a minimum of 3 rounds where they will perform their poetry before a panel of judges in front of an audience. The entrants will be whittled down to just 2 before they compete against each other with the ultimate winner being chosen by the judges

Slams are usually organised over three rounds. A poet/group may enter the same piece in all three
rounds, but it’s usually better if they write and perform different pieces each time. If you have a
relatively small number of slam participants, you may need only one round to find your winner.
Round one:
· Each participant/group performs for 3 minutes.
· After each performance the judges are asked to hold up their chosen scores so that the
audience can see them. The high and low scores are dropped, and the middle three are
added together, giving the poet a total score of between 3 –30. The top third poets/groups
go through to the next round
Round two:
· The process is repeated in Round two, with the top third going through the final round
Round three:
· Repeat the process again to find your winner.

And why are you running one?

Dan: We are holding a Poetry Slam because it is a fantastic way of making the museum’s collections relevant to different audiences. At the museum we have recently opened the brand new HMS – Hear my story exhibition which tell 1000 stories from 5 generations of people’s personal experiences of serving in the Royal Navy both at home and abroad. The exhibition tells the story of the Royal Navy from 1900 to the present day through the eyes and stories of veterans and people involved in the Royal Navy. A vast range of different community projects have involved lots of different people of wide ranging ages to involve them with the exhibiton itself and also the stories that it aims to tell and share with visitors ranging from inviting local veterans to share their stories in the Veterans area, knitting the Southsea Yarnscape, involving people of different ages and backgrounds in how the exhibition should feel and look like and also holding exciting, engaging and thought provoking events for local people to engage with the museum’s collections.

This is the first time that the museum has held such an event, and the poetry slam format is a very hands on way and interactive appealing way getting people of different ages involved with poetry.

Do you want people to write poems, or just come along and listen?

Dan: Both! – you can write poems as individuals or groups or you can come along and hear the poetry that has been created inspired by the brand new exhibition! If you belong to a group that would like to participate in the event please let me know.
Do we need to book?

Dan: Booking is essential as spaces are limited. Please contact 02392 727595 or email for details.

How much does it cost?

Dan: This is a free event. 

So there's no prize?

Dan: There will be a prize for the winning piece, judged by museum staff.

Is there any theme or anything?

Dan: We are inviting people to create poetry that explore the themes of war, remembrance and reconciliation as these are some of the many themes that occur within the exhibition itself through the stories that it aims to tell and also linking to the many events already being held across the UK for the 100th anniversary of the start of World War One. People will also be also to gain inspiration from the ‘Racing to War’ temporary exhibition which illustrates the Royal Navy’s role in the build up to the first world war.

Pictures of the exhibition all supplied by Dan Ball.

Patsy: Sounds really interesting, doesn't it? Hope to see you there!


  1. Entering a poetry slam sounds scary as hell! I wish them luck with it, and perhpas when / if I return to UK I will attend one and find out first hand!

    1. Anything to do with poetry is quite scary, Lizy.

  2. I've learnt something today, Patsy. I never knew what a poetry slam was. Mind you, I'm no good at poetry!

    1. I only had the vaguest idea what was involved, Wendy.

  3. Looks like an interesting museum to this old gob.

  4. Interesting post dear!! I'd never heard about Poetry Slam!


    1. There's a first time for everything, Fashio Lover.

  5. I know a few people who've done poetry slams, Patsy, and apparently they're very popular. Hope the event is well supported.:)

    1. I think a lot of poetry works well 'performed', Carol so I can understand these events being popular.

  6. Sounds good fun. Like x factor only writing. Hope you win....

    1. It being fun is possible, Suzy. Me winning is considerably less likely.

  7. I was interested to read this post as I hadn't heard of a poetry slam either?

  8. Then I'm glad that Dan and I have eductated you, Jan.


Thanks so much for commenting!