This’ll be old news to some people, but it happened during a time when I was snowed under with coursework and all sorts of other nonsense so I haven’t had a chance to write about it until now. Long story short – Edinburgh University won Unislam 2016! Unislam is a nationwide student poetry slam (i.e. uni-slam, rather than un-Islam as google search suggestions keeps insisting). I went down to Leicester with the amazingly talented Doug Garry, Catherine Wilson, Jyothis Padmanabhan and Rachel Rankin to represent our university, and we won!
It was a brilliant night, with the highlights being feature set from Hollie McNish and the wealth of great student contributions Manchester Metropolitan and Goldsmiths University of London especially. Every time I think back to the quality and excitement of that final, I find it harder to remind myself that we won. But we had a great team, and we pulled it off! What’s more, Edinburgh as won Unislam for the third year in a row now, which I think stands as a testament to the quality and life of the Scottish spoken word scene at the minute.
But wait, there’s more! Not only did Edinburgh get to keep the shiny trophy for another year, but we as a team got the chance to represent our university at the 2016 College Union Poetry Slam Invitational in Austin, Texas! This turned out to be both a great opportunity and no small undertaking, and the next few months were spent frantically fundraising. In the end we managed it, with the kind help of the university, the City Cafe, the Writing Squad, the Widdrington Trust and many more people.
So we headed out again, this time with the inspirational Toby Campion as our coach and quite a lot further to travel. But we arrived in Texas, and spent the best part of a week getting to know the city and the university. It really was something to immerse ourselves in a totally different kind of poetry scene – a different culture altogether, really – and see some wonderful performers too. Other highlights included the Nerd Slam (Pokemon + Steven Universe + Poetry = so much yes) and getting to hang out with Jesse Parent. It was a lot of fun.
We didn’t make it past our first heat, but we did have the pleasure of supporting the University of California, Los Angeles team in the subsequent heats (they were robbed!). And we didn’t go home empty handed – we won Spirit of the Slam award! So, through it all, despite the nerves and the deadlines and the jet-lag and the distinctly un-Scottish sweltering heat, we survived. And it was incredible.