Say Owt to win! New poetry slam features YouTube star Mark Grist

21 Oct 2014 @ 3.40 pm
| News

York’s first poetry slam for three years will be feast for the ears, says organiser Henry Raby

Teacher turned rapper Mark Grist is on his way
The Say Owt Poetry Slam is the brainchild of me, Henry Raby, and Stu Freestone. We both consider ourselves “performance poets”, which essentially boils down to the fact we gig a lot.

The rules of a poetry slam vary from place-to-place, but our version will give 15 poets three minutes each to perform a piece.

There will be five audience members tasked as judges who will give each poet a score out of ten. This means that poets are in competition, albeit a friendly one.

The top five poets will then perform once more and the highest score from those will be named Say Owt Slam Champ!

Say Owt Poetry Slam

  The Basement

  Tuesday, October 28 @ 7.30pm


  The Basement website

  Say Owt Facebook page

The stakes are raised, the energy is upped, the performance is sharper and the poems are stronger.

It also hands agency to the audience, even if they’re not judging. A well-timed whoop or extra loud clap can affect the judges’ decision.

And afterward strangers will debate who was the best poet (“no, you’re wrong, that metaphor was ace”).

York is very rich in poets and writers, with regular nights like Speaking In Tongues, Spokes, The Spoken Word and Speaker’s Corner.

Plus there’s York Literature Festival and the yearly night I run at York Theatre Royal, Words & Whippets.

Hopefully, Say Owt Slam will be a melting pot for these poets, in the raw heat of a competitive night.

Nerdy poet master

The response has been incredible. Within 12 hours all our slots were filled. It will be a bit nerve-racking, but mostly very fun.

Most slammers are from York, but some are travelling from Harrogate, Newcastle, Leeds and Hull!

We also hope to bring a headliner each slam well-versed in performance poetry. For the first one, we’re incredibly excited to have Mark Grist.

Mark was a teacher who became part of the Peterborough rap scene. Mark brought his gentlemanly, nerdy and traditional poetry style to the rap battle circuit, and proved a cult favourite.

One recording of a battle went viral on YouTube, attracting more than four million views.

He’s also done Bestival, Latitude, Glastonbury, Reading/ Leeds and a host of other UK festivals.

This is the first York slam for at least three years (as far as I’m aware), and we’re already looking at a date for the second slam in January.

If you fancy having a go at the second slam, or want more info, email us [email protected].