Battle of Hastings – Poetry Slam

19 October, Spiegeltent, HBAF2018
By Sarah Cates

A confluence of creative forces. We were enthralled by the immense talent on show. Diverse, inclusive, saying wonderful things. This group of individuals competed stridently to be crowned the first ever Poetry Slam Champ of Hawke’s Bay. A momentous occasion fully supported by a passionate and high energy audience.

Slam Poetry will kick to touch any previously held beliefs around poetry nights. This event was hard hitting, at times – brutal, and moved along at unwavering speed. The audience got swept along in a torrent of concentration, focus and stinging metaphors.

The fans had their horses backed. Like any main stream sporting event the competition was fierce. The audience was made up of complete newbies and the more experienced. From this balanced pool, judges were randomly selected. In three quick-fire rounds the initial eight competitors was reduced to five, then three in the final round.

The newer supporters soon caught on with Slam Poetry culture and clicked their fingers when a competitor expressed words that struck a chord, had weighted meaning or was simply overpoweringly clever. You could cut the tension with a knife. As the competitors took to the stage the audience waited with bated breath to hear the words. Thoughtful, brilliant, insightful.

The evening was knitted together by Ben Fagan. Sporting a tailored red and black Swanndri jacket, he effortlessly kept the evening running with a light, heartfelt enthusiasm that put everyone at ease. His instantaneous comments showed his sharp sense of humour and professionalism. He was born to be in front of an audience.

The winner, young Theo d’Arbois du Jubainville,  blew the audience away with his sage-like presence. He was relaxed, confident and wise beyond his years. He was the deserved winner. Each poem was as remarkable as the last. Fingers were clicking almost non-stop as the words fell effortlessly from his mouth. We were in the company of a future star.

This evening was only $18. If you are talking value for money, I can confidently say I was fully satisfied. I would have paid three times that amount to have been in the same room with these amazing people. A stunning and inspiring evening. I am a convert!

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