A timeline of the Margate Bookie Slam and the Kent Poetry Championship


The Margate Bookie Poetry Slam has been a popular headliner of our litfest since the very beginning, combining poetry with the drama of a live contest. 10 poets battle it out in a heated contest, all in a bid to face off against the Kent Poetry Champion. Hosted by Bookie’s in-house poet and festival cornerstone, Connor Sansby continues to bring the show to life, with puns, double-entendres and incredible showmanship.

Each of our amazing slams has been headlined by some of the greatest local spoken word poets, some of which have gone on to achieve national and even international acclaim.


The rules to the Slam are simple:

  1. All poems must be original. Using someone else’s poetry is grounds for disqualification.
  2. Each performer has three minutes to perform one poem. Even if a poem only takes a minute, they still only get one chance to make an impression
  3. Once the three minutes are up, there’s a 10 second grace period. After this, the performer loses one point for every 10 seconds they overrun.
  4. The poems are judged by three randomly selected members of the audience. They each award marks out of 10, with the average being the performers final score (minus any time penalties)
  5. No props allowed. We’re after poetry. This includes music, as well as physical props.
  6. The judges votes are purely subjective and final.
  7. The poet with the highest score then goes head-to-head with the reigning Kent Poetry Champion in a bid to win the Kent Poetry Championship belt.




Friday 18 February 2022
Bookie Slam 3 at FavLitFest
with Raymond Antrobus

Our first live slam event since the start of the UK lockdowns, this was an extraordinary event. Raymond Antrobus won the Ted Hughes Award in 2019. His writing confronts his deafness discovered when he was six years old; miscommunication, place and memory, intimacy and brutality, sound and silence, and conflicting racial and cultural identities, shifting between England, South Africa, Jamaica, and the American South. He is the author of Shapes & Disfigurements (2012), To Sweeten Bitter (2017), The Perseverance (2018) and All The Names Given (2021).


Friday 21 February 2020
Bookie Slam at Faversham Literary Festival 2 with Luke Wright

Our largest ever show, in the majestic Old Brewery Store, saw a line-up of friends new and old, with the Medway towns representing heavily. Herne Bay hero Sam Tate, on a legendary scored the win in his debut Bookie Slam performance, while Pauline Holmes reeled in the belt (which she holds to this day).

An inventive and engaging wordsmith, Luke Wright documents 21st-century British life with wit, humanity, and panache. A well-read scholar and master of poetic form, his poetry is full of anecdote, historical vignettes, social commentary and acute observations on life.


Friday, 22 November 2019
Bookie Slam 4 with Inua Ellams

Once more taking the stage at Elsewhere, an exceptional slam saw Pauline Holmes rise to the top and Henry retained his title against Nina in a nail-biting, razor-close to the wire showdown, cheered on by a standing-room only capacity crowd.

Inua M. M. Ellams is a UK-based poet, playwright and performer. Inua has written for the Royal Shakespeare Company, Royal National Theatre and the BBC. In June 2018, Inua was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature as part of its 40 Under 40 initiative.

Inua Ellams (left) and Henry Madd (right) retaining his championship belt


Saturday 27 July 2019
Bookie Slam 3 with Neelam Saredia-Brayley

Returning to Elsewhere, a standing room only crowd witnessed Henry Madd bring the belt back to Kent in an intense, show-stopping battle.

Internationally travelled and Kent favourite, Nina Telegina was our slam winner, fighting off stiff competition in poets travelling all the way from London for the chance at the belt.

Neelam was the winner of the 2017 Full English Festival Slam, and has performed in several festivals & events across Kent. In 2018, she opened for Canterbury’s Poet Laureate Lemn Sissay at the University of Kent’s Worldfest celebrations. She works with illustrators and musicians to create multi-disciplinary pieces that are unique to Kent’s poetry scene.


Friday 22 February 2019
Bookie Slam at FavLitFest with Salena Godden

A little over a week after her victory, Sadie rushed into her first defence, hosted by our friends at Faversham Literary Festival at The Limes, against Margate’s own Ellie Ward. scoring rare back-to-back rounds, Sadie was able to pick up the win, while in our slam a three-way tie had to be settled between Steve Lawes, Alex Vellis and eventual winner Henry Madd.

Salena Godden was a fab headliner for us at our first Bookie Slam and we’re so glad she came back to visit us again in 2019.


Wednesday, 13 February 2019
Kent Poetry Championship Slam

With two eager competitors, we had to bring the slam back for one special, non-festival night at Elsewhere, then a brand new addition to Margate. Harry and Sadie both brought their A-Game but in the end, Sadie left with the belt.


Friday 28 September 2018
Bookie Slam 2 with Dean Atta

For our second Bookie Slam, we took over The Quarterdeck Brewhouse, now back to its original Cinque Ports name. With a packed room, Kent-born, Essex-raised Sadie Davidson took the win to be crowned our first Number One Contender!

Dean Atta has been listed by The Independent newspaper as one of the 100 most influential LGBT people in the United Kingdom. His poetry often deals with questions of identity and social justice, has been featured on BBC Radio 4. In 2019, Dean’s verse novel, The Black Flamingo, was published by Hachette UK and was one of two winners of the Stonewall Book Award 2020 in the Children’s and Young Adults category.



Sunday 6 May 2018
Bookie Slam 1 with Salena Godden

The inaugural Bookie Slam saw some of Kent’s top poets take the stage to battle for the belt. Held at The Dug Out, an iconic Margate venue, right across the road from Turner Contemporary.

After an intense last minute draw, British poetry legend Harry Baker walked away with the title in one of his earliest gigs in his new home town.

Salena Godden is an English poet, author, activist, broadcaster, memoirist and essayist. Widely anthologised, Salena Godden has published several books, including Mrs Death Misses Death (2021), Pessimism is for Lightweights (2018), Springfield Road (2014), and Under the Pier (2011).



Check back with us here for more exciting Bookie Slams as they happen in the coming years. With many more poets and performers waiting in the wings, the Margate Bookie Slam will surely be an event that will never disappoint.

For more info on upcoming events, check out


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