Poetry Rivals 2016

Taking poetry from the page to the stage!

Press Release


Poetry Rivals 2015 Slam Champion is Crowned!

On Saturday 2nd April, Poetry Rivals held its 7th annual slam, this year at The Elgar Room in the Royal Albert Hall. This much-anticipated sold-out event was packed full of poets with their family and friends as well as poetry lovers of all ages, eagerly awaiting the performances and to find out the winner. 28 of the 30 finalists performed their work to a live audience and guest panel of judges: Vanessa Kissule (2011 Poetry Rivals Slam Champion), Jonny Fluffypunk, Morgan Walton and Clive Birnie (Founder of Burning Eye Books).

During 2015 poets entered their work and the top 30 poets were invited to attend the slam, where the winner would be chosen.

Each poet did an outstanding job, bringing their words to life and after their applause died down, Mark Grist explained why their poem had been chosen. The judges faced a tough decision, but their choice was unanimous and Poetry Rivals is delighted to announce the 2015 Slam Champion is Jamal Mehmood from Gillingham, who has won a pamphlet publishing contract with Burning Eye Books.

Judge and founder of Burning Eye Books, Clive Birnie commented: "What impressed us as judges about Jamal's poem, and the thing that gave it that crucial edge over the other contestants was the precision and economy of his words. It is a very tightly written yet evocative and powerful. The balance and composure of a very assured reading sealed the deal. From the moment he stepped down from the stage he was the contestant the others had to beat."

Judge, Vanessa Kissule said: "An understated, meticulous and heart-breaking poem that I thoroughly enjoyed and deeply identified with."

The judges also awarded Audrey Biscotti from Alloa, Shruti Chauhan from Leicester and Toby Campion from Leicester, a commendation for their work, which entitles them to free entry into Poetry Rivals 2016, which opens in September.

Poetry Rivals would like to thank all the poets who took part and huge congratulations to Jamal Mehmood! Jamal said: "It feels really good to have won the competition. I've been working really hard for about half a year on poetry - as I took a bit of a break from performing until late last year - so to win was great, especially in front of my parents - given the content of my poem. Before the announcements were made I realised that having my parents and friends supporting me at the venue, and others supporting from afar was so much more important than winning. I felt very much blessed to be in that position regardless of what happened next.

There were so many talented people in the room and to receive kind words from them afterwards was even more encouraging. There were some stunning poems spoken and there were definitely some poets who I'd love to see perform again soon. It was a fulfilling and enjoyable experience and the whole process was organised and executed so well by the team."

Poetry Rivals has had another great year for fresh, original and inspiring poetry from all walks of life. If you'd like to find out more and read Jamal Mehmood's winning words, please visit www.poetryrivals.com.