Hampstead Poetry Slam

Today I was the finalist in a poetry competition – the first one I have ever entered.

The theme was poems about London. I had sent in my poem, “Hampstead Heath” and was very pleased when I heard it had been selected. The finalists were all to take part in a Poetry Slam at Burgh House, Hampstead and their poems published in a pamphlet, “Stories about London.”

Burgh House is the most delightful place. An 18th Century, Grade I listed house in New End Square, Hampstead. The poetry readings took place in the panelled Music Room which is used for all kinds of events including civil marriage ceremonies.

There were fifteen finalists altogether. We were each called up to read out our poems.

Hampstead being Hampstead, there was one contestant who decided he was going to deliver a boring monologue before reading his equally boring poem. The rest of us obeyed the rules and just read our poems. Some were very good indeed. A few were not so good. But all were interesting and everyone read well.

At the end, the two judges, Piers Plowright, the former BBC producer and Matthew Lewin, the former editor of the Ham & High Newspaper then disappeared to discuss who the winner should be.

I wasn’t expecting to win but to my delight my poem was singled out (along with three others) for commendation. The winning poem was about the North London line.

To save you having to look for my poem, here it is again.

Hampstead Heath

The candy floss is sour

The swings go slower now

Everything goes slower now

Instead of rainbow colours

I see peeling paint

stage make-up

and torn clothes

All the fun of the fair

is written in quotes

and a question mark

The toffee apples

are yellow with age

We grew up together

Pennies are to be counted

before they’re thrown away

Each roundabout is analysed

Which goes furthest

longest, cheapest?

No more impulsive jumping on

Sad faced people in jumble sale clothes

Snot nosed children hands outstretched

Gypsy Marie – cross her palm with silver

or be cursed for ever

Fairylit night of Christmas boxed bulbs

Tinny pops scratch out a legend of

Hold on to me babes

and let’s spend the night together

Couples entwined

hands in each other’s pockets

feeling their way through

the darkening night

And, as for me,

I can still hear the shouts

and the screams

the “roll up misters”

when all the fun of the fair

is out of sight.

© Andrea Neidle, My Life in Poems

2 thoughts on “Hampstead Poetry Slam

  1. Hi Andrea
    What a terrific thing to do and to get a commendation was excellent and well deserved.
    I am sure you should have won as this is a lovely evocative poem.
    Well done!


    1. Thank you Brian! I hadn’t read in public for years and I’d forgotten how enjoyable it is to have a real live audience.
      This blog is fun too as it encourages me to keep writing and keep posting – especially when I get feedback like yours.


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