The Story behind the creative writing event StorySLAM:Live


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Friday, May 17, 2013 - 15:33
On the 22nd May literary mavericks will be taking over Spirit Level at Royal Festival Hall, because StorySLAM:Live is happening.  StorySLAM:Live is a literary X-Factor-style battle, where writers consider the theme 'Estates of Mind' through imaginative, five-minute short stories as they compete for this summer's prize. We got an exclusive insight into this event from Joanne Donovan, the Artistic Director of StorySLAM:Live.  Here is what she had to say about this creative writing event. Tell me a bit about the history of StorySLAM:Live.  How it came about, where the first one was and how writers responded to your call? The idea for StorySLAM:Live came, like most creative processes, through forming new connections between old ideas.  A patchwork of influences and questions came together and resulted in our event.  Poetry Slams, open Mics, The Moth in New York.  All of these influenced and emphasised the gap for a prose event.  These are some of the questions that came up. Why are all these great stories I hear on the creative writing courses I attend just languishing in drawers and cupboards? Where is there a space for writers to meet other writers and discuss the craft, that’s friendly, open to all and encourages conversation? Where can agents and publishers spot talent? From our very first event we attracted writers of the highest calibre; we have students from some of the best creative writing colleges in London as well as people who are writing alone. StorySLAM:Live started at the Albany Theatre in Deptford, and we will be forever grateful for their support.  As well as a platform for emerging writers, we also wanted it to be a good night out.  Introduce @rizomorph on music and visuals and @daddydark as the MC to set the tone and we had our formula. What are your personal favourites out of all the stories you've heard and why? That’s a difficult question.  One of the magical things about StorySLAM:Live is the surprises.  You never know what’s coming next.  If I had to pick a personal favourite, then it would be a story called Sweat Rice, which is a great little piece by Janett Plummer about what happens when you wish too hard for something. Who are the best types of judges for StorySLAM: Live? Who have been the best judges you've had and why? The best types of judges for StorySLAM:Live are experts in the literary industry.  We’ve had many different judges at our events and the best ones have a knack of finding the strengths in the writing and then commenting on how it can be improved.  If I had to name names I would say that Greg Mosse (he runs the Southbank Centres creative writing school) has always been a favourite with the audience.  However, we were delighted to welcome Femi Martin as a regular to the panel at our last event and she is back for London Literature Festival by popular demand.  We’re also lucky to have literary agent, Samar Hamman of Rocking Chair Books, as a regular member of the judging panel. How does it feel being at Southbank Centre and how is it different to The Albany? We love our home at Southbank Centre.  It gives our aspiring writers a chance to appear on stage in one of the world’s most iconic arts venues.  We’ve worked hard with the production team at Southbank Centre to create a friendly intimate event that reflects the values we started with at Albany- so hopefully the magical experience has remained much the same.   Finally if you had one piece of advice for writers hopeful to read at StorySLAM:Live, what would it be? Don’t try to squeeze a 10min story into a 5min slot.  People are listening to you and you will ruin your chance if it’s rushed and garbled.  Listen to some story readings on Radio 4 to get the optimum pace.  And practice – use a simple video camera, or even your phone, to record and time yourself.  If you want to win, the work has to go in.    If you fancy entering StorySLAM:Live or are just interested in hearing some five minute masterpieces then pop along to Spirit Level, Royal Festival Hall on the 22nd May at 7:45pm.  If you do want to enter you can do this on the day by bringing along a five-minute story using the theme 'Estates of Mind' and signing-up on the door.