Illustration by Spike Zephaniah Stephenson
We had the distinct pleasure of attending the Communion Bar‘s Big Raw Choc Slam yesterday and let me tell you it was quite the extravaganza. If you are in pursuit of a night that provides you with wicked wordplay, crazy cocktails and awesome aesthetics then look no further. The Chocolate Poetry Club brings together some of the finest poets from across the country and provides them with a platform to display their dizzying dalliance with the dictionary. The bar itself is cozy and classy and doesn’t look like any other venue we’ve ever been to. It manages to remain simple and chic whilst simultaneously dazzling visitors with it’s unique stained glass esque faux windows. If this wasn’t enough the staff are friendly and the menu is overflowing with a truly impressive array of delicious cocktails.
After we’d settled down with our ‘Likkel Rascal’ cocktail into our pew inside this artesian speakeasy it was time for the slam itself to start. The Big Raw Choc Slam brought together some of the finest established slammers and new talent from all over the UK and whilst we won’t give you a blow for blow of the event we will introduce you briefly to each participant.
Jasmine Sophie was first up and she delivered a soulful and lilting piece in the first round which secured her a place in round two, her second piece was a lyrical exploration of a trip on the national express, a poem with a hook that stuck in our heads and obviously the judges too as Jasmine made it through to the final.
Slammer number two was Kyronne Parkes who treated us to a poem broaching death, life, ambition and drive. An astonishing talent with a strong voice, keep an eye on Kyronne and his associates at Spare The Poets collective.
Jade Anouka used the first round to deliver a couple of short but sweet poems which earned her a spot in the second round where she performed an inspiring piece about what it means to win, and what we’re willing to do to do so.
If you haven’t already heard Corinne Altass-Hye then you should have, she is an extremely accomplished and practiced young poet. Her poetry is as thoughtful as it is thought provoking, her first piece about what she would really like to be teaching the students at school was one of our favourites of the evening.
The enigmatic Tyrone Lewis brings as much energy as he does soul and heart to his pieces. His opening poem exploring the awkward but heart warming conversation of an estranged father and son over a meal at Nando’s stuck with us. He made it to the final as the crowd’s choice wildcard and officially ended the slam with the words “I Am Groot!” from his poem exploring pop culture and identity.
Jake Wild Hall hit the stage with boundless energy and emotion, he delivered an impassioned piece his eyes still teary from listening to Tyrone before him. This only leant weight to his already powerful words, his performance was incredibly memorable. His piece which explored the virtue and innocence of an old relationship and was incredibly emotive is one I would love to listen to again.
Damian O’Vitch was the eventual slam winner. His poetry is a true delight to listen to and he answers as many questions as he asks. You can go along and watch Damian compete in the Hammer & Tongue Slam Final and we could not urge you to more strongly. We cannot in words describe the honesty, humour and hubris that make Damian’s words so captivating, but that’s why he’s the poet and we’re not. His final poem on immigration and the hypocritical and short sighted nature of the average casual bigot was as funny as it is frightening.
Andreea Stan delivered a beautiful piece about a boy with perfect hair, who was as soulless as he was horrendously handsome. A cautionary tale, Andrea’s work has a mystical fairytale quality to it which is helped in no short part by her enchanting Romanian accent.
Liam Malone was another poet who opted to use his time to treat us to a selection of cheeky, slightly shorter pieces. His poem written with the express purpose of scaring of cold callers is certainly worth memorising, if not for it’s comedy value then for genuine utility.
An extremely talented young writer Becky Moses has actually only been writing for a short time, a fact that would be hard to guess due to the polished and professional quality of her work. Her poem ‘Genesis’ is absolutely mindblowing and she easily flew through to the second round of the competition.
Another member of the Spare The Poets collective Darius McFarlane delivered an extremely insightful piece comparing the evil and innocence of the “grey hoodie” and the “blue tie”. This may well have been one of our favourite pieces of the evening and the readers would do well to check this young wordsmith out.
The evening was drawn to a close with some choice pieces from judges Richard Purnell who treated us to as much preamble as poem, but thankfully had it where it counted in abundance with head pounding sarcasm and wit. His poems about the feigned and insincere reverence of dead celebrity and the simple joy of a bath were a true treat. Tying the bow on the evening was the mesmerising Myriam ‘Wordmaker’ San Marco whose poetry can be as dark as it can be beautiful, standing tall over the chasm of that divide her poetry can tell a story like few others can.
The entire evening was extraordinarily compéred by the irrepressible host Paul Point. The Chocolate Poetry Club seems to be getting ever more delicious with every bite and you can have a nibble yourselves this Sunday (9th August 2015).
For the full event details click here.