YouTube Poet Wows in Wales/Haiku with a Twist – Poetry News Roundup August 15th

Today, we bring you news from Wales and Denver USA, as we continue our search for poetry news across the globe.

Neil Hilborn wows them in Wales

Today we bring you news of an exciting poet who is causing a sensation with his current 32 date British tour which finishes on September 9th. Houston born Slam Poet Neil Hilborn recently blew away the crowds at the Undegun show in Wrexham which was sold out. He was supported in this by Wrexham-based poets as well as by spoken word artists The Voicebox Collective and he was rightly described as a “world class act”.

Hilborn has previously proved himself an internet sensation where his YouTube videos have attracted millions of hits. His sensational poem OCD charts his obsession with a new love, his feelings for her and ultimately how she fails to deal with his OCD. Bravely, Hilborn often writes about his personal experiences and in particular battles with mental illness including bipolar disorder. We wish him well and look forward to hearing more about his work.

Haiku gets a modern twist in Denver

On the subject of Poetry Slams we had to tell you about a National Poetry Slam contest held in the public library in Denver recently which as The Denver Post reported drew a huge and enthusiastic crowd. This particular Slam was held to choose the Haiku master but more importantly went a long way to demonstrating that poetry as a spoken art form has not lost the ability to entertain and inspire. Indeed, Christopher Michael the president of Poetry Slam Inc. was at pains to point out that not only are there 113 poetry slams all across the US but, as he said, “poetry ain’t dead.” Michael himself is proud of his achievement as the 2016 Individual Poetry World Slam Haiku Death Match Champion and he understands the power of competition and how to make poetry entertaining.

Haiku, as we all know, is a traditional form of Japanese poetry which can feature only 3 lines of rigid structure and can often be a little dry and unexciting even though they traditionally speak of nature. In Denver that all changed when the rule was that the only requirement was for the 17 syllable rule. One by one the poets stepped up to deliver their Haiku offering and these dealt with issues as diverse as depression, Santa Claus delivering presents in June, and breast-feeding.

The audience too was encouraged to be diverse in their appreciation. Jazz hands, finger waving and one or two-handed claps were all allowed. Selected audience members then judged the poems by raising a flag, either ‘red’ or ‘not-red’ to demonstrate their preferences. Poets who scored two out of three then advanced to the next round. Audience reaction varied from suppressed cheers and laughter to stunned silence. Two of the most powerful offerings elicited the most emotional reactions:

from Jerri Hardesty of Alabama

And this one from Nick Nappo of the New York Rock Slam Team:


We think you’ll agree that Haiku has a great part to play in modern poetry and modern poetry can still stir the emotions.

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