Hampstead Poetry SlamPosted: May 12, 2011
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.
The candy floss is sour
The swings go slower now
Everything goes slower now
Instead of rainbow colours
I see peeling paint
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
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
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