The Eko Literary Society is the premier society in Lagos for lovers of books, poetry and all things literary and they founded the Eko Poetry Slam, which in collaboration with Metro 97.7 FM and Radio One 103.5 FM, took place last Saturday. It would be the first edition. Their previous poetry slams have been in Abuja. Ken the Slammaster was the host, and I thoroughly enjoyed his witty comments at the end of each poet’s performance.
There were 35 contestants and three rounds. In the first round each contestant was given 3mins and five judges chosen from the crowd scored each poet with numbered cards they flung up based on the quality of the poet’s content AND performance.
The ten poets with the highest totals moved on to the second round. The time was reduced to 2mins. Six poets went on to the third round and from there, a winner was selected. Those who won certainly put their back into it and they deserved their titles.
The prizes were N50,000 for the winner, N30,000 for the 1st runner up and N20,000 for the 2nd runner up.
So, what did I learn? That being a poet doesn’t make you a performance poet. As I watched the participants raise their voices and drop their voices; bellow, sing, wave their arms or reach out, I realized that being a performance poet was tantamount to being an actor. It wasn’t enough to say the words, you had to deliver the words and give the audience room to feel as passionately about your topic as you did, even if ordinarily they would have been unable to empathize.