Wednesday, 2 May 2007


I’m slightly dazed. I’m a bit confused. But I’m also Hammer & Tongue Poetry Slam Champion 2006/7!

Yup. Last night, I somehow emerged triumphant from Oxford’s infamous annual live poetry showdown using a poem about consumerism and the environment, and a poem about pigeons bent on world domination. I couldn’t tell you the exact scores but it must have been pretty ruddy close – the other contenders were all excellent (particularly Sian Robins-Grace, who came in second place), plus I think I scared the judges a bit by adopting an (admittedly rather disturbing) high-pitched freak-voice for parts of the performance. I should probably have given them some warning, but of course that’s far less fun. Heh.

Poetry slams are weird things – each poet performs a short piece, then the judges (who are 5 random audience members at H&T) hold up scorecards to show what they think. This makes the whole thing pretty unpredictable, as you can probably imagine; excellent poems can get low scores if they’re not immediate enough in their impact, and poems you wouldn’t think much of written down can capture the crowd if they’re performed with enough panache. Poetry slams are great fun, but are probably best thought of as a way of raising the profile of live poetry and getting more people involved (it worked for me), rather than an objective method of finding the “best” poets.

All of which means that although I did put a lot of time and effort into writing and practicing the poems, I wouldn’t have won without a big fat dollop of good luck as well, and so I shouldn’t let it go to my head. Despite all of this, though, I can’t help feeling REALLY EXCITED, especially coz the poem “Don’t Buy It” – which is my attempt to challenge the warm fluffy myth of “ethical” consumerism – got the highest score of the evening. Hurrah - people are up for a bit of politics in their poetry, based on this totally representative sample of people who live in Oxford and go to performance poetry competitions!

I’d better call a halt to all this shameless self-congratulation, but if anyone’s actually interested in my poetry here are some ways that you can see/hear it:

  • Buy the book and CD “This Poem Is Sponsored By…” from Corporate Watch for only seven pounds – it includes “Don’t Buy It” and loads of great political poetry from an amazing selection of poets.
  • Contact Hammer & Tongue for information on their forthcoming CD “OxTongue”, featuring performances by Oxford-based poets (including me).
  • Come to one of my upcoming performances: the Christian Aid climate change poetry event in Oxford on May 15th, the Corporate Watch book launch as part of Acoustic Night in Bristol on June 18th, or (hopefully) the Poetry & Words tent at the Glastonbury Festival!
  • Go to my lonely, barren new MySpace page (which I’m still in two minds about because of the Murdoch connection).
  • Send me an email at dannychivers [at] and I’ll keep you updated on future gigs and things.

Enough of this. I’ll try to do a proper post again soon about exciting important things like the Climate Camp and suchlike (OK, I'm getting overexcited about this whole embedded link thing now).




Jenny said...

Congratulations, old bean!

Spitting Mad said...

Top blog! More power to you.

Only just noticed your comment on our Observer Woman blog - many thanks for the New Internationalist link, great stuff.

Ally McBile @ OWMMS