Calm Slam 2023 Finalists

For this year’s Calm Slam, we asked you to respond to the theme of Open The Door 2023, ACTIVISM.

We were overwhelmed and moved by the creative, thoughtful and inspiring entries we received.

Our six shortlisted Calm Slam poets have shown enormous creativity and skill, and we’d like to thank every one of them for taking part.

Here is what one of our judges, Blaq Pearl had to say:

“All the poems were beautiful, motivating, honest and unique. It’s always refreshing to hear a poet combine their voice and words in a way that speaks to you. In addition to empower and encourage themselves and you as the recipient to be the change we want to see. I wish to commend the poets on their bravery and courage to honour their talent or gift to write and share it with us.  I am truly honoured to have participated as a judge on this competition. Listening to the voices of women around the world that also take leaps of Faith, participate in movements and become proactive in change we want to see in their own right reminds me of the unity and hope that exists amongst us. One of the reasons I love poetry is that it connects us and we can relate to each other through diversity and beyond borders.

You can watch and listen to the shortlisted poems below:

The winner of Calm Slam 2023 is Lindsay Oliver with her poem How To be a Feminist Poet. It is a powerful piece that moved and impressed our judges. Congratulations Lindsay.

Here’s what Giovanna MacKenna, one of this years judges had to say:

Congratulations Lindsay Oliver winner of this year’s Glasgow Women’s Library Calm Slam Poetry Competition

It might be a cliché but it’s absolutely true to say that this year’s entries were pretty extraordinary but your poem Lindsay How To Be A Feminist Poet ticked every box a winning entry could.

You set us in a perceived safe space while using the list form and then exploded it with great skill. You took words that we believed were familiar and dug deep, pulled them apart until they began to be something new and fresh and, you drove humour through the very heart of your poem, which only served to underline the seriousness of your topic

That we need to look hard at the accessibility and privilege that comes with activism. Lindsay, congratulations your poem was great and that last line!

If you haven’t heard Lindsay’s poem go through GWL’s feed you’re in for a treat.”

Thank you to everyone who entered our Calm Slam!

Thank you to our judges Blaq Pearl, Lil Green and Giovanna MacKenna.

Blaq Pearl is a writer, musician and activist, based in Cape Town. She was born and raised in the working class community of Mitchellʼs Plain, Cape Town. A gifted singer and writer, she also holds a degree in Psychology and Linguistics from the University of the Western Cape. Blaq Pearl is a proud social activist and youth development worker who gets her inspiration from God, her parents, family, friends, neighbours and self. She is driven by a desire to tell her own story and the stories of others. For more information visit and follow her on Twitter @BlaqPearl_ZA

Giovanna MacKenna’s life has been built by words: she was an actor and a journalist and is now a poet and workshop facilitator. Her first collection is available from The Museum of Loss and Renewal Publishing. You can find some of her recent work in Sídhe Press, Stanza Cannon, Eat the Storms and Nine Pens. For more info visit and follow her on Twitter/Instagram @giovmacpoet

Lil Green moved to Glasgow in November 2022. Lil lives for building creative projects with other people. “Weaving threads of connection is my jam. I’ve been doing this through a pretty fluid style of publishing that mixes workshops, print and audio, mostly under the guise of my indie press, No Bindings. When I’m not doing that, I work at Glasgow Women’s Library facilitating the Readers of Colour sessions amongst other programmes and activities!” You can follow Lil on Twitter @_lil_green_ and @nobindings and on Instagram @nobindingsproject