Fred Slattern, possibly the second best poet in Colchester? There were forty entrants to the Poetry Slam, but only nine jumped the twin hurdles of snow and stage fright. Five got through to final round and just one won, with no other placings given. Fred was in the final.................. but didn't win.
Fred put on a good show, at the Arts Centre's Poetry Slam, finding the microphone rather empowering. Certainly compared with his usual spoken rants at nobody in particular, reading his shopping list or grumbling about bus-drivers, from his imaginary pulpit on street corners. And he had a crowd of fifty, rather then the usual none.
In the first round he covered the snappily titled "If James Dean had lived, would he have shopped in Waitrose?" followed by the mercifully short political piece "Council House and Van", and ending with "When?" - his take on the contemporary First Site gallery, and the storm over the cost and delays when the Town Hall was completed in 1902.
The judges, David J and Martin Newell, ooooooh, proper poets, were sufficiently impressed to give Fred another (metaphorical) soap box for Fred's little stories from the "I saw this, and I heard that" school of poetry. In the final round Fred covered his "Electricity" - linking country parks, local Elizabethan celebs and a big secondary school. Then it was "Colchester High Street", speaking in support of the grand old dame that the doom-mongers say is on its last legs. The final piece was "sandwich deal" commenting on our attitudes to Big Issue sellers.
Fred probably got more (intentional) laughs than any of the other entrants to the Poetry Slam, with his bumbling introductions and terrible poetry puns. His last ditch attempt to charm the audience and judges was to promise them his "Hilly Fields" poem as the winner's encore, but sadly it was not to be. All the competitors were beaten by Steve Lawton, who pulled off an astonishing hip-hop dj rap performance, a very worthy winner.
But Fred had the last laugh, with a group of punters in the audience approaching Fred after the show, asking to hear "Hilly Fields". Ever the showbiz star, and ignoring the standard advice to leave them wanting more, Fred addressed the back rows with his Hilly Fields yarn, to more applause! Fred's sitting in his lonely garret now, waiting for the bookings to come in....
And you know how good your poems really are, when people come up to you and say "I love your beard".