A guest post from Nathan Thompson.
I strode up and down the long bar looking for the gig. I could hear the sound of poetry but could see no associated poet, audience or panel of judges – just a sparsely populated bar. Where is everyone? I was late – over an hour late. All because I had been holed up at home writing tales of modern alienation for the past 3 days seeing no-one and had put my clock back on Sunday 23rd October as opposed to the standard 30th. As I don’t have a TV, I still hadn’t realized my disagreement with GMT. And GMT won, like it always does.
The gig was Oxslam 2 where the best performance poets from Swansea and Cardiff clash poetic swords to raise money for Oxfam. Oh, and it turned out that the venue was actually underneath the bar, in an atmospheric converted wine cellar called The Vault – one of Swansea’s premier live venues. Down there, the acoustics were excellent and I decided to forego the use of a microphone for my first poem. I was so desperate for the toilet my performance had a knee-shaking angsty edge. As soon I finished I dashed off the stage. Luckily, the judges thought this was part of the performance and praised my dramatic exit while I was praising the availability of decent toilet facilities.
The Cardiff team was captained by ITV’s Nicholas Whitehead and featured poetry from Emma Williams, Tom Miller and Adam Johannes. The Swansea team was captained by acclaimed short story writer Howard Ingham and featured poems from Sarah Coles, Phil Night and I. Tensions were running high as the scores came in. It was very close but Swansea began to edge ahead of their Glamorganite rivals.
The interval featured an amusing, if pointless, raffle where every single person who bought a ticket got a prize. It was the only raffle I’ve seen where the amount of prizes outnumbered the amount tickets purchased. It was like playing pass the parcel at your mate’s 7th birthday party. The one with the doting mother who made sure everyone got a prize and all the guests left dizzy with toy-lust and orangeade. This was down to the good people at Parthian Books who kindly showered the event in free prizes to give away.
Swansea eventually triumphed and took the trophy back to their regular haunt, ‘the best dive bar in town’, Mozart’s. It was a close run thing and all participants gave performances to a very high standard. Welsh poetry legend, Mab Jones reported on the show for Vault Radio where some of the performances are available online. The night was a celebration of what is a vibrant literary scene in a criminally overlooked and beautiful part of the world.