Dan Holloway checks in after the first ever Flash Slam

Per Extraordinary Author/poet Dan Holloway:
Oxford celebrated National Flash Fiction in style with its first ever Flash Slam, which showcased this fabulous format with some of the performance and pizzazz of a poetry slam.

Fourteen fabulous writers came from as far afield as Birmingham, Bristol, and Gloucester, and included the likes of Jonathan Pinnock, bestselling author of Mrs Darcy vs the Aliens, and Gloucester poet Laureate candidate Sarah Snell-Pym.

They each performed for four minutes to a packed Albion Beatnik Bookstore, and subjected themselves to the scrutiny of expert judge and our headline reader Tania Hershman, one of the UK’s most celebrated flash fiction writers, who delighted us later in the evening with readings from her book My Mother Was an Upright Piano. They were then scored out of 100 by a panel of judges comprising Paul Askew, poetry slam winner and editor of Ferment Magazine, author of short story collection A Knowing Look, Rebecca Emin, and leading Oxford cultural blogger Ingrina Shieh-Carson. All presided over by yours truly.

The top three performed again in a final that demonstrated perfectly the dazzling diversity of the form. The pieces that got them there couldn’t have been more different. Joe Briggs is a music blogger whose semi-autobiographical pieces have the energy and edge and sense of imminent eruption of those underground punk gigs you heard about but never seemed to go to.

Anna Hobson (above right) is one of the leading figures in the Oxford literary scene, coordinator of poetry (and many other things) at Oxford International Women’s Festival and MC of spoken word at Oxford Pride. Her first round flarf (an alternative form of literature achieved by pasting quotations from the internet into a formal structure) was the highest scoring piece of the night by a long long way and it took the audience several minutes to regain their composure after her exquisitely-crafted and breathtakingly delivered look at the strange world of internet dating.

But the winner, fittingly, was Bristol’s Kevlin Henney (left), an award-winning die hard practitioner of the flash form who married superb storytelling with effortlessly engaging delivery to carry off the spoils.

Thanks for the report, Dan, and thanks again for wading through our #FlashFiction contest submissions.