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UniSlam Competition Success – Bath Spa University

Bath Spa University poets reach UniSlam finals

Thursday, 28 April, 2022

A team of Bath Spa University Creative Writing students and graduates are celebrating after they reached the finals of the annual UniSlam poetry competition.

Founded in 2013, UniSlam is the UK’s largest team poetry slam tournament, providing workshops, talks and fringe events to the next generation of British poetry talent. Teams take part in a three-day programme with top poets to elevate their practice and hone their skills, while also competing for the UniSlam title in the live spoken-word poetry competition.

This year, 20 UK universities competed for a place in the finals. The Bath Spa team consisted of students Ellie Jenkins, Tyjana Howard, Erin Green, Alexandra Turner and Emma Taylor who study a mixture of writing and performance disciplines at Bath Spa including Creative Writing. The two team coaches, Kathryn O'Driscoll and Callum Wensley were both Bath Spa alumni from the BA Creative Writing and MA Creative Writing courses respectively. The team was supported by generous funding from the University and money raised via a student crowdfunding effort.

Bath Spa made it through the heats and semifinals to compete against three other finalists at The Hippodrome in Birmingham in March: Queen’s University Belfast, University of Birmingham and University of Leeds. The finalists’ work was judged by poets and writers Andrew McMillan, Cecilia Knapp and Paul Tran, while the evening was hosted by celebrated Bristol-based writer and performer Vanessa Kisuule.

The Bath Spa team gave it their all and were runners up to this year’s winners, University of Birmingham. Emma Taylor, who is studying for a Creative Writing and Education: Primary and Early Years degree at Bath Spa, reflected on their success:

"Being a part of the team for this year’s UniSlam was a huge privilege. Performing both for the first time since the pandemic and in such a supportive and exciting environment was such an incredible experience. I was overwhelmed by the amount of talent present on the UniSlam stage and to make it to the finals alongside my teammates was a dream."

The mentorship of Bath Spa academic staff and the team coaches was an essential part of the experience for the competitors and Emma hopes it will leave a legacy for the future. She continued:

"The support we received from our team coaches, Kathryn and Cal, has been truly invaluable and I know I have grown as a writer and person from this experience. I hope to be able to take part in UniSlam again next year, but the connections I have built this year alone will stay with me forever."

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