National Final


National Slam Final 2019

In 2019 The National Slam Final was again held at the Royal Albert Hall in the Elgar Room.
The next one will be in the same venue on Jan 9th and 10th 2021 (TBC)

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.


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

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 is  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) usually:

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 and National Champions

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

A list of slams that have been represented previosuly whose winners will be invited again can be found below. Please let us know about any slam that you know of 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 takes 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 2003 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

2021 – Rick Dove
2019 – Birdspeed
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