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Ferrago Flash-Fiction SLAM experience

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Last week I took part of the Ferrago Creative Wriitng Workshop and Flash-Fiction SLAM, organised by John Paul O’Neill, at Covent Garden’s Poetry Café. Special guest speakers and judges included Anna Chen, Isabel del Rio, and Jarrett, Charles Shaar Murray.

The Farrago Poetry organization has an established tradition of presenting well-known poets side-by-side with new, emerging writers, on a lively stage that is home to all. John Paul O’Neill, the host, co-founder, and coordinator of Ferrago, is one of Britain’s leading new poetry performers and emcees. He runs and hosts poetry events in the capital including Britain’s first poetry SLAM! He also runs workshops and is a former teacher at Kensington & Chelsea College.

For the workshop, O’Neil tasked the group of to write roughly 500 words of flash-fiction, with the intention of performing it to an audience later for the SLAM competition. We were expected to write freely for 15 minutes, without stopping, editing, or correcting what we came up with. He also encouraged us to accept whatever we wrote, and to not to stop writing even if stuck for words. For example we were told to repeat lines if we couldn’t think of another.

To start off we were given the word “heat” to serve an inspiration for a starting line to a potential story. Once we all had a line, we were then told to read aloud what we came up and only one person’s line could be used for us all to use. I was surprised to find it was my line that was used as our collective starting line. The line was “I could feel it starting. I was burning from the outside out.” Then we spread out across the café, and our 15-minute countdown had begun.

Once we had written our pieces were told to partner up, go through our partners’ piece, and select the five best lines from it. The idea was that we would next write a new piece of Flash-Fiction based on the best line from our previous piece. My line was “Sorry, but the hand of God, even when laid so delicately upon the Earth, still manages to rip the world asunder.”


I decided to read out my second 15-minute piece once the Flash-Fiction SLAM event had begun. The contestants read out their flash fiction for the panel of judges of esteemed writers, journalists, and poets. Each performer even received a free book of short stories to take away with them. The overall winner of the performers was Gemma Talula (pictured above) a student of John Paul O’Neill’s who regularly attends Creative Writing Courses.

The next upcoming farrago event is The Ferrago Summer SLAM, on 16 August at the RADA Foyer Bar on Malet Street. It’s an open-mic reading event with guest speakersfeaturing Sofia Buchuck, Tanya Loretta Dee, Peter Hayhoe, Anna Kahn, Courttia Newland, Lauren Shapiro and more to be confirmed. Tickets are £6.

Visit Ferrago poetry for further details of upcoing events or email them at [email protected]

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