By Robin Cairns, Scottish Slam Final Grand Master.
‘One sunny day in 2008 I was summoned to a meeting between The Aye Write Festival and that eminence grise of Glasgow poetry, Jim Carruth. The idea of running a Scottish Poetry Slam Championships was up for discussion. I had been running slams in dank basement bars around Glasgow for a few years and they wanted me to get involved. I pointed out to them that slam poetry was a bit different from the usual LitFest fare of comfy minor telly personalities making guest appearances to sign semi-ghosted books – but they seemed to want to risk it nonetheless.
The first Scottish Slam saw the grand Victorian reading room at The Mitchell Library swarmed with poets from the fragrant to the vagrant. Graeme Hawley triumphed and the Championships became a yearly fixture – moving to the broad expanses of The Mitchell Theatre due to burgeoning ticket sales. Subsequent years saw winners of different styles and audiences gripped and yelling for their favourites in stormy nights of passionate mic-attack.
In 2011 a visit to the Utrecht Poetry Festival put us in touch with The World Series event which is held in France every year and we duly sent our Scottish winner that year, Young Dawkins, to go and fight for that title. He placed highly, as have all the other contestants who have taken the trip to Paris in springtime since. Recent years have seen the Scottish Slam Championships shifting location. The Pleasance Bar, Edinburgh was a great venue in 2012, and Oran Mhor in Glasgow’s West End was hoatching with avid poetry fans this year to see Miko Berry grab the honours.
We’re planning on returning to Edinburgh in February 2015. Onwards and upwards!’