After making a last-minute switch between rooms within the Hatchet Pub due to unforeseen circumstances, the opening round of Hammer & Tongue’s regional slam championship kicked off last night with a makeshift bang. In the words of resident poet Jonny Fluffy Punk, the substitute location projected somewhat of a “community centre ambience” in comparison to the event’s usual setting in an adjacent room. Hopping onto a coffee table which would act as an impromptu stage for the evening, co-host Sally Jenkinson welcomed the audience of lyrical enthusiasts who had made themselves at home among the armchairs and sofas which sporadically littered the room.
Prior to the slam competition itself, Bristol was treated to a set from Ben Norris, who opened proceedings with a series of poems that had the gathering instantly hooked. Assuming a DJ pose for ‘The Only Way’, Norris plunged into a dynamic piece which ‘scratched’ a scathing commentary across an imaginary vinyl record; skipping between Hamlet, reality TV and social puns before playing out its poignant conclusion. ‘Dismembered voices’ followed which was spellbinding in its tragic content. Splashing anaphora across verses that plotted the stratospheric rise of a young writer, it was a powerful poem and Norris certainly looks like one to keep an eye on judging by this short but impressive set.
With the crowd suitably warmed up, the slam commenced with an eclectic group of six local poets battling it out for a place in the next round of the competition. A diverse range of subject material which ranged from the wonderfully obscene to the clinically insane ensued to the delight of the congregation. Rounding off the slam, local veteran Jeremy Toombs delivered an emphatic final poem that employed his mesmerising monotone drawl to take a well-deserved win.
Closing up shop, Adam Kammerling took to the table to perform a hugely enjoyable set that demonstrated the lyrical dexterity and poetic swagger that has made him such a prolific Slam Champion. From an encounter with a pair of ethical muggers to an amazing Tarantino-esque kidnapping scenario, Kammerling’s precise diction and poised elocution makes him a cut above the rest. His final ‘slam-winning’ poem about foraging for food when totally skint was wonderful stuff and topped off another night of verbal shenanigans courtesy of Hammer & Tongue.