So there’s poetry readings, and poetry slams. Readings are usually small, very attentive, quiet gatherings, where people appreciate subtlety in the use of words. Slams are loud public events, with much whooping and cheering. Poems are usually learnt off by heart and performed, to be judged by randomly chosen members of the audience. 16 contestants are eliminated through a series of heats, coming up with one winner, who’s performed three of their own poems (max 3 minutes) and emerged triumphant. I’ve been to lots of slams, and have been depressed by the arbitrary nature of the judging, the way that subtlety often gets edged out, so that crude populism wins, often rewarding poems that are about nothing at all. But that’s all changed. As of Saturday night, I am runner up in the Great Arena Love Slam at Wolverhampton. To prove it, I have a bottle of wine, a box of chocolates, an anthology of love poems and a rose. not to mention a larky addition to my cv, and a memory for life. It just was a lovely occasion, with a lot of good poems, and I wouldn’t have missed it for the world.