UniSlam is more than a poetry slam. We champion the voices of young people when they hear their stories, their votes, do not make a difference. We engage vulnerable youth with poetry programmes when austerity is cutting creativity across our education system. We mentor and support emerging artists at a time when making a living as a writer seems virtually impossible.
We understand the power words can have and we use them to make a difference in the creative lives of hundreds of young people and artists.
Starting as a one off event in 2013, UniSlam has grown into an annual festival and cornerstone event of the British spoken word calendar, with programmes running throughout the year to support emerging artists across the country.
Our work is still focused around the UniSlam Festival. This is home to the UniSlam tournament (where university poetry teams compete) and the National Youth Poetry Showcase (where young poetry collectives come together to perform non-competitively), as well as workshops, masterclasses, talks and fringe events for all participants.
Outside of the festival, we run several other programmes throughout the year. Our Midlands Outreach Programme gives free spoken word workshops to vulnerable youth across the Midlands. Our SLAMbassadors weekend gives intensive coaching to a group of talented young poets, selected through application. Our Post-Emerging Cohort supports and mentors mid-career poets who have aged-out of ‘emerging artist’ projects, selected through application. All individuals involved in our year-round programmes are then invited back to be involved in our UniSlam festival, either as audience members, participants or judges/facilitators.
Toby Campion - Artistic Director
Ben Norris - Associate Producer
Sean Colletti - Assistant Producer
Through our programmes, we strive to:
- Provide national platforms for emerging artists and young voices to be heard, and champion creativity in education
- Improve participants’ skills and confidence by providing them with meaningful progression routes, networking spaces and training sessions focused on both creative (writing and performance) and professional development
- Develop Britain’s youth-poetry infrastructure and build connections between regional poetry communities, championing events outside of London, particularly those based in the Midlands.
- Increase diversity within British literature by maintaining the safe spaces we have created and providing the highest quality development opportunities for our participants, actively encouraging and working with at-risk/minority groups through our outreach programmes and demanding inclusive processes for team selection at our tournaments
- Address the worrying lack of support that exists for mid-career artists who have aged-out of the ‘emerging’ stage by setting up and supporting a post-emerging poets’ collective.
- Work against the pervasive ‘page vs. stage’ divide that exists in British poetry by advocating for quality in both writing and performance, and by bringing poetry which considers performance into more academic spaces while encouraging more page-focused writing into performance or slam settings.
We support the following key groups through our programmes:
Emerging university poets, through our UniSlam tournament and Alumni opportunities
East Midlands youth facing barriers in accessing literature, ‘the arts’ and education, through our Outreach Programme
Young writers, through our National Youth Poetry Showcase and Masterclass offer
Mid-career poets, through our Post-Emerging Cohort
The UniSlam Festival ties our various strands of work together and brings these groups to one event as participants, audience members and facilitators, whilst providing a high quality live literature festival for audiences in the Midlands.
Thank you to all our UniSlam 2019 partner organisations and supporters: