Brighton’s longest-running poetry slam is set to return on Tuesday 6th February at a new venue, The Tusk Club at The Walrus on Ship Street. The event, which started over ten years ago, has always provided a welcoming platform for grassroots poetry performance, giving wordsmiths of all ages and backgrounds an opportunity to get on stage and share their verses with the world.
As well as offerings from a new batch of entrants, 2024’s opening event will feature a trio of headline performances from poets who took part in 2023. Hannah Woodvine, a published poet, who also placed second at the renowned Ledbury Poetry Slam, reached the final of last year’s Hammer & Tongue Brighton Slam. As did Seamus Fox, hailing from Co Armagh in Ireland but now based in Portslade. He has published two books of poetry and his work often takes the form of social commentary, tackling poverty and injustice. Also appearing is Leanne Shorley, former winner of the Hammer & Tongue Brighton heats, who has featured on BBC Radio 3, BBC Radio 6 and Sky Arts, and brought her own one-woman show to last year’s Brighton Fringe.
Each month the floor of the Brighton slam will be open for poets to perform an original poem of three minutes or less (just words – no music or props allowed) for the chance to get through to the final held at Brighton Open Air Theatre as part of the Brighton Fringe. Hammer & Tongue has always placed an emphasis on taking poetry out of the academic setting. Anyone can give it a go, and the three-minute limit means you don’t have to worry about being a captive audience to someone’s indulgent rambling epic. It’s all about the performance and the connection between poet and audience, the immediacy of the moment. And with the instant feedback of an encouraging community of peers it’s a vital chance to hone your skills, as well as win over some hearts and minds.
After the February date, further events will take place on the first Tuesdays of March and April, so if you want to take part, make sure you get in early and buy a performer ticket. It’s a perfect space for first-time performers to dive into the world of spoken word performance, with a friendly, light-hearted atmosphere. Equally, if you’re a seasoned orator looking to get back into the game dust off that notebook and get down to The Walrus.