Learn how Literature Wales adapted an international initiative to engage young people in literature.
Slam Cymru was Wales' first ever National Youth Slam. The project began with creative writing and performance workshops, leading to regional heats and a national grand final. Youth Slam teams from across Wales battled it out to be named National Youth Slam Champions 2015.
Slam Cymru was coordinated by Literature Wales with funding from the Garfield Weston Foundation.
Lleucu Siencyn, Chief Executive of Literature Wales, visited America during the Dylan Thomas 100 celebrations. During her trip Lleucu learned more about Slam, the global spoken word poetry movement that originated in the USA. She made connections with organisations out there and returned inspired by the movement.
Preparing for the project
Young People's Laureate Martin Daws received a Creative Wales Ambassador Award from the Arts Council of Wales to work with Literature Wales and Urban Word in New York to learn about Slam poetry. Martin received mentoring from Hip Hop artists and attended the Preemptive Education Conference led by Urban Word.
Martin was accompanied by Bardd Plant Cymru Aneirin Karadog, who shares his interest in spoken word. I joined Martin at Brave New Voices Festival, which draws Slam teams from across America and internationally to learn and compete.
We returned to Wales determined to apply what we'd learnt and create our own Slam project. Our Chief Executive had recently met with the Garfield Weston Foundation and that seemed a good fit. We submitted an application for Slam Cymru, which was successful.
We issued a callout for poets. They had to apply and say why they wanted to be part of the project.
Martin and Aneirin trained eight poets who would work with them to coach Slam poetry teams across Wales. We asked the poets to approach groups locally. If they were interested Literature Wales would then take it forward.
The Prince's Trust also supported us by suggesting groups and providing rooms for the workshops.
Each of the poets was then allocated a group to work with. These included Young Carers, Schools and Prince's Trust XL Clubs.
Each group received four sessions in which they had to create two poems under two minutes in length and learn how to perform them.
The workshops were followed by two regional heats. Six groups competed in Wrexham and another six in Cardiff. Two teams from each region then went on to compete at the grand final at St David's Hall in Cardiff.