Last weekend, the Elgar room at the Royal Albert Hall was brimming with words, spewing experience and imagery of the Nation’s voted best. Exactly what you would expect of the Hammer & Tongue National Slam Finals. It is a tough competition and one that at the end of it, one poet will be left on the stage.
There must be something about Bristol (of course we are bias!) and the poetry that comes out of this rich diverse cultural city when the 2015 Slam Champion was Vanessa Kisuule and succeeding her this year is Solomon O-b, the self described part rapper part poet. Solomon was born in Hackney but now lives in Bristol and has been making a name for himself in the local scene. We managed to hold him down for a few minutes for a chat.
First of all, congratulations on becoming the UK Slam Champion! Tell us a little about yourself and how you came in to performing poetry.
Thank you. I started rapping first and was seen playing with a band I’m in called Sounds of Harlowe, by a poet named Buddy Carson. He was running a night called ‘Stand up for Lyricism’ and asked me down to do a slot. I got a taste for it and have enjoyed it ever since.
Are there any recurring themes in your work?
I don’t really think so. Just the fact that it’s all kind of based around close personal experience. I like my work to really reflect me.
Do you have writing process?
It varies often. One thing that does seem to help is standing and moving around when trying to come up with new patterns or ideas. Sounds kinda weird but sitting down can be a little stifling sometimes.
How do you feel about poetry slams? Are they the best way to get your work out there into the scene?
Personally I like them. People reading will be like “of course he’s gonna say that, he’s just won the nationals!” haha! I just think it’s a good way to gain exposure as a poet regardless of the result and the atmosphere is always very inclusive.
How did you find the Hammer and Tonue Slam Final? Any highlights for you?
A very surreal but enjoyable experience. It was great to be a part of something on that scale. I think a highlight for me was the fact that all four finalists were people of colour. That’s great to see in terms of role models for young children and something that should be definitely be made note of.
Finally, have you got an advice for anyone entering slams in 2016?
It’s really easy to let a score validate your poem. I’ve left slams thinking “well I wonder what I could have done better”. Often it’s just down to personal preference as opposed to a difference in quality. Just go in, dont hold anything back and enjoy slamming for what it is, fun!
Check out more from Solomon on his Facebook page.