You Have No Idea How It Works
Look, it’s a poetry competition, and they are all more or less the same. The poets perform. After they get off stage, we roll some dice, and whatever comes up is their score. Then, we turn to our judges, who do their best to explain why that score is correct, and reflects the true value of the poem. At the end of the night, the audience votes for their favourite judge. Simple!
Or, to put it another way, we created a mock contest which allows us to provide breathing space and comic relief in between sets from five incredible poets from across the whole country.
You Have Never Been to a Dice Slam
Festivals are a good time to try new things, and you’ve never been to a Dice Slam before, have you? Unless you were in the Netherlands when Bernhard Christianssen experimented with the format for the first time, that is. There has only been one Dice Slam in the UK before, here in Birmingham, six years ago. It was a resounding success; we’ve only waited so long to bring it back because we wanted to give the city a chance to recover. You want to be there when it happens.
Incidentally, if you are one of the lucky hundred or so people who attended the first one, you can skip this blog post. We assume you already have your ticket. It’ll be great to see you again.
We Have Not Seen Our Headliners
The five featured poets are all ridiculously talented writers and performers, and will converge on Birmingham from every corner of the country. It will be the first time Sky Hawkins (the North), Toby Campion (the Midlands), Kareem Parkins-Brown (London), Charley Genever (the South East), and Vanessa Kisuule (the South West) share the same stage. You may have seen some of them individually, of course, but the Dice Slam at Verve Festival really is a rare opportunity to check the pulse of poetry on a national scale at a single event. And to stop you feeling homesick, the local touch will be provided by our host, Birmingham’s own poetry powerhouse Amerah Saleh.
You Have Not Met Our Judges
The judges would make for a fantastic poetry line-up in their own right, but they will be there in fate’s corner on the night, scouring their twisted wits for convincing explanations and justifications of random dice rolls. We will hear from Luke Kennard, the widely acclaimed poet and novelist, and Lecturer in Creative Writing at the University of Birmingham; Anna Freeman, a novelist and lecturer in Creative Writing at Bath Spa University, as well as a multiple slam-winning performance poet; and Paula Varjack, a writer, filmmaker and performance maker and the creator of the infamous Anti-Slam. Each of them is a bona fide star of contemporary literature and performance – and it’s rare to see those so far out of their comfort zones…
You Have No Love for Competitions
Many people have a strong dislike for competition in the arts. That’s a separate discussion, but the Dice Slam provide an answer: we keep the pomp and circumstance, we keep the appearances of scoring, winning and losing, whilst making it blindingly obvious that not of it has any real meaning beyond providing audiences with space to breathe and laugh in between sets of fantastic poems. There is an argument to be made that this makes the Dice Slam one of the most faithful manifestations of the original poetry slam spirit, as devised my Marc Smith in Chicago in the early eighties. Of course, we’re biased, we have an agenda, we would say that – so don’t take our word for it. Come see for yourself. Book your tickets here.
Our headliners and host