Royal Albert Hall "pop-up" basement to host poetry National Slam Final


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The Royal Albert Hall’s basement will resound to the UK’s finest performance poets when the National Slam Final is staged in a “pop-up” room, deep beneath the famous venue.

Spoken word artists and “masters of spit and wit” will go head to head in the “Slam”, a democratic system of choosing a poetry champion where the audience decides who wins the day.

Organised by Hammer & Tongue, the UK poetry slam organisation, the final will be staged in the Loading Bay, a pop-up venue in the Hall’s basement, which will be decorated with graffiti art depicting jazz musicians and beat poets.

Steve Larkin of Hammer & Tongue said: “People coming to the slam final will be blown away by the variety and virtuosity of UK spoken word. There’s a whole carnival of quality going on under the surface. For every Kate Tempest and Dizraeli, there are a plethora of poets who are coming from all sorts of different backgrounds – from comedy, music or hip hop – and doing incredible things.”

Although “slam” poems might appear improvised, they are works which have been crafted for a spoken word performance. Tempest, winner of the Ted Hughes poetry prize for innovation, who releases a hip-hop album next week, will be a special guest at the final.

The Royal Albert Hall staged Allen Ginsberg’s International Poetry Incarnation in 1965, a celebration of underground poetry, which attracted 7,000 people to readings from leading US beat poets including William S. Burroughs.

Jasper Hope, the Hall’s Chief Operating Officer, said: “Almost 50 years after one of the most incredible events ever to be staged in the Royal Albert Hall, the International Poetry Incarnation, we are delighted to announce the National Slam Final today.

“The Loading Bay has played host to a succession of invigorating, exciting and unusual events over recent years, from a graffiti exhibition to chessboxing, and this poetry slam will be no exception. It’s a unique arena, and the perfect location for this extraordinary event.”