In anticipation of the Inter-Varsity PoetrySlam that will take place for the fourth time next spring with the support of Poetry Ireland, Trinity Literary Society hosted its own liveslam at Players Theatre last Tuesday evening. The aim was to facilitate entries in the I-V Poetry Slam.
Audio, video and text submissions are opened until March 1st. More broadly, the night was about providing every Trinity poetry lover with a platform to express themselves and to listen to their brave fellows performing.
Brian MacMahon Gallagher, one of two finalists representing Trinity in the Inter-Varsity Slam last year, hosted the session.
Now a member of OutStraight, a concept based show combining spoken word with graffiti, he introduced the audience to the book just published by his collective and performed three acrobatic pieces, full of wit and alliterations, to kick off the night.
His poetry alternated between high-speed questioning about Ireland’s identity and destiny – “Seven euros a pint in Temple Bar… Was it for this?” – and slower and more introspective moments – the line “I’m scared with possibility” was movingly repeated several times.
He then proceeded to remind us the rules of a slam session. “You can speak for an unlimited amount of time, but it has to be your own words. No Yeats!” he laughed, before encouraging the public to support the slams by clicking their fingers.
After offering the audience a last “poetic lamb” dealing with the fact that for many drama students “Shakespeare is full of shit” – my friend and neighbour, a student in English studies, wholeheartedly clicked her fingers – MacMahon left the stage to four successive performers.
With restraint and poignancy, the first one delivered a calm yet powerful monologue about the challenge of living directionless. Next, Kit Marshall took the stage. Her performance, mixing an avalanche of numbers with disillusioned comments, enhanced a common experience: helplessness in front of overbearing news coming in the distance.
Having got rid of the mic and eyes-closed, Leo Connell proposed a hypnotic slam revolving around the chorus “Welcome to the hall of mirrors…”.
The last performer read out a beautiful poem made of both pointed and hopeful interrogations such as “If we are hollow, do we not echo?”.
The jury vote brought to a close the session, with Kit Marshall coming first and Leo Connell second. The former will have her piece published in the next issue of The Attic, LitSoc’s annual publication, and I cannot wait to reread written down its surprising punch line.