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Published 25th May 2011

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Primary school pupils will be competing in Middlesbrough’s first ever inter-school poetry slam competition today (Wednesday).

Poetry slams are a growing phenomena imported from the US.

The slams see poetry performed live in an innovative and interactive way.

Poetry slamming is closely linked to hip hop but performers are free to use any sort of poetic style they choose as well as music and movement.

The theme for the Middlesbrough poetry slam is ‘Slamming the City’ – inspired by Middlesbrough’s bid for city status.

More than 700 pupils have competed in the slam’s preliminary rounds.

Now 76 pupils representing 19 primary schools will compete in the final slam.

They will explore what living in Middlesbrough the City would mean to them through the medium of poetry slamming.

The Year 5 pupils will be representing their schools in small teams with one team being crowned by the judging panel as the ‘Slamming the City’ Champions.

The panel for the event includes Harry Zevenbergen the City Laureate of The Hague.

The event, organised by Middlesbrough Council’s Children, Families and Learning Department and Middlesbrough Libraries, is part of the 0-19 Literacy Campaign to improve literacy levels in Middlesbrough.

Councillor Mike Carr, Middlesbrough Council’s Executive Member for Children, Families and Learning, said: “This promises to be a really exciting event for all the children involved.

“As well as being great fun poetry slamming provides a useful aid to developing literacy and communication.

“We are always looking at new ways to engage children and improve literacy levels in Middlesbrough and I’m sure this event will prove a huge success.”

Claire Wordsworth, from the Middlesbrough city status bid team, said: “Poetry slamming is a brilliant way to involve the children in the city status campaign.

“I’m really looking forward to hearing their feelings and ideas on Middlesbrough becoming a city through the slam.”

The children are receiving expert advice from creative writing specialists and performance poets Bob Beagrie and Andy Willoughby.

All poems performed in the afternoon session will be included in a Middlesbrough poetry slamming publication that will be presented to the Mayor of Middlesbrough Ray Mallon as part of Middlesbrough’s City Status bid.

The winning Slamming the City entry will be performed at Middlesbrough’s Literacy Festival, which takes place June 4 – 24, and at the Summer Reading Scheme.

Middlesbrough’s bid document for city status will be submitted this Friday, May 27.

Useful links

Love Middlesbrough: City Status Bid

Love Middlesbrough: City Status Bid - Background

Love Middlesbrough: City Status Bid - Messages of support

Love Middlesbrough: City Status Bid - Creative responses






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