On Sunday evening, the Royal Albert Hall’s Elgar Room played host to one of the UK’s biggest spoken word and poetry events, the Hammer & Tongue National Poetry Slam Championships.
Poetry slam champions from Edinburgh to Brighton competed for the title of National Poetry Slam Champion in a two-day extravaganza which saw the audience decide who was crowned the master of spit and wit.
After two days of back-to-back qualifying heats, the four finalists who battled it out for the coveted prize were Caroline Teague, Shade’ Joseph, Caleb Oluwafemi and Solomon O.B.
It was 24-year-old Solomon O.B who was victorious after the closest final in Hammer & Tongue history with 0.1 of a point between winner and runner up.
Solomon, who was born in Hackney and lives in Bristol, is soon to release his debut solo EP ‘The Writing is Real’ and has been chosen as one of the final six of BBC 1Xtra & Roundhouse London’s nationwide Words First Campaign.
‘It’s still a surreal experience being crowned champion. I came into the competition with the intention to win but to actually win feels pretty amazing! The fact that I won by such a small margin is testament to the quality of the competition. Anyone could have taken it!’
Solomon O.B, National Poetry Slam Champion 2016
Special guests at the 2016 Slam included former UK Slam champion Hollie McNish and comedian Simon Munnery.
‘After a year of poetry slams all over the UK the people have chosen their poetry champion and I’m over the moon that it is Solomon, as I’m sure he will be an inspiration to many in this rapidly growing genre which is aching to be exposed to the mainstream. Solomon is a great champion because he creates intelligent, emotionally sensitive dramatic work. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house!’
Steve Larkin, Founder of Hammer & Tongue
The National Poetry Slam Championships form part of the Hall’s diverse Beyond the Main Stage programme for 2016 which will see acclaimed singer-songwriter Jono McCleery, Black Swan composer Clint Mansell (tickets released 25 January 2016) and Britain’s most popular film critic, Mark Kermode headline this year. The January to April programme also includes stand-up comedy from Kerri Godliman, Brett Goldstein and Diane Morgan – in the Late Night Laughs season – as well as free lunchtime concerts, a host of family events and a one-off performance from Egyptian sensations Tarek Abdallah & Adel Shams El Din, with a special support slot featuring Syrian musician Maya Youssef.