National Final

National Slam Final 2019

The National Slam Final will once again take place at the Royal Albert Hall in the Elgar Room. It will be a one day affair this year with individual annual regional Hammer & Tongue slam champions being joined by invited winners of other slams from around the UK.

There will be the multi-round individual slam and a team slam and a whole host of special guest artists.

This is one of the highlights of the spoken word calendar, it is always packed with massive variety, enjoyment, and drama as people bring their ‘A-game’. There’s nothing quite like the atmosphere of a big poetry slam with a title that can launch a career.

Tickets are available directly from the Royal Albert Hall box office:

Please be advised that this event always sells out two days and/or a bigger venue well in advance so act now to avoid disappointment.

Do you run or have you run a poetry slam in the UK? Please email email hidden; JavaScript is required to inquire about potential entry. Deadline for entry submissions is May the 4th.


A poetry slam is a live democratic spoken word competition where random audience members judge three-minute scripted spoken word pieces from contestants.

This year we feature special guest artists: Sam Berkson, Damian O’Vitch, and Michael parker (more guests TBC).

The Hammer & Tongue National Slam Final is widely recognised as being the premier event in the UK poetry slam calendar with the highest profile slam title.

The National Final recruits qualifiers from its own network and invites champions from slams run by other organisations in the UK such as Cheltenham Allstars and Glastonbury.

There are two titles that will be up for grabs at The National Slam Final:

  1. The Individual National Slam Champion
  2. The Team National Slam Champions

The Individual Slam Title will be decided over a number of rounds. The weight of the slam title will dictate which round of the competition that the artist starts in (exact make-up dependent on final number of entrants) likely to be:

Round 1

Winners of one-offs, one-round slams, and people placed at large slams.

Round 2

Winners of significant slam titles that have involved more than one round or a very large field of artists e.g. Genesis Slam, or Glastonbury Festival Slam

+ The runners-up of Hammer & Tongue Regional Finals

Round 3

The Hammer & Tongue Annual Regional Champions 2016

The draw for the order of each group will be made in advance of the event.

A comprehensive list of slams that were represented last year whose winners will be invited again can be found below. Please let us know about a slam that took place in 2018/2019 that you think should qualify its winner for the National Final if it’s not listed below – email hidden; JavaScript is required

The Team Slam will this year take place between teams selected by The Regional Coordinator of each Hammer & Tongue and the winners of the Uni Slam.

A team piece is one that is performed by 3 to 5 performers on stage at once each of whom must have a spoken role in the piece.

Usual slam rules apply.

The team slam is in its infancy, we hope to grow it as Hammer & Tongue increases its year round programmes in more areas of the UK.

If you’re interested in becoming a Regional Coordinator in the Hammer & Tongue network please get in touch with Steve Larkin at email hidden; JavaScript is required.

Best of luck to all that take part. May the artist who connects with the audience on the day best win!

The poetry slams that Hammer & Tongue organises follow the PSI rules:

    • 3 minute rounds (10 seconds grace)
    • 5 randomly appointed audience judges*, Olympic-style scoring system (compound sum)
    • No props
    • No backing tracks or musical instruments

* A key tenet of a poetry slam, and one that is a core belief of Hammer & Tongue is the notion of an absence of expertise. At Hammer & Tongue slams, the people decide who is their champion, the people that turn up on the night and have scorecards thrust in their hands.

The effect of maintaining this format is that the progress of artists is independent from whims, prejudices, and preconceptions of commentators, academics, or artists.

Hammer & Tongue doesn’t offer a place in the national final to the winners of “juried slams” .

Hammer & Tongue National Finals – A History

Hammer & Tongue was founded in 2004 in Oxford by Steve Larkin and is now a Community Interest Company that runs a year-round programme of touring guest artists and qualifying slams with regional finals in Brighton, Waterloo, Hackney, Cambridge, Oxford, and Bristol, as well as one-off festival slams such as the nightly slam that takes place at The Edinburgh Fringe.

List of slams represented at the Hammer & Tongue Slam Final 2018:

    • Hammer & Tongue:
  • Other Slams and spoken word events:
    Cantebury Slam
    Roundhouse Slam
    Genesis Slam
    Manchester Slam
    Glastonbury Festival Slam
    Strawberry Slam
    Cheltenham All Stars
    Farago Slam
    Jibber Jabber
    Scotland Slam
    Bang Said the Gun Golden Gun
    Word 4 Word Slam
    Northern Ireland Slam
    Off the Shelf Festival Slam
    Power to the People Slam
    The Great North Slam

List of Winners

Individual Slam Champion

2018 – Usaama Minhas
2017 – Theresa Lola
2016 – Soloman O.B
2014 – Vanessa Kisuule/ Layla Josephine (joint champions)
2013 – Stephen Morrison Burke
2012 – Adam Kammerling

Team Slam Champions

2018 – Bristol Hammer & Tongue
2017 – Edinburgh Uni
2016 – Brighton Hammer & Tongue – Captained by Michael Parker
2014 – Hackney Hammer & Tongue – Captained by Angry Sam Berkson
2012 – Oxford Hammer & Tongue – Captained by Steve Larkin