Tina Sederholm explores the origins of a new show, Poetry on the Spot, launching in Oxford at the Albion Beatnik bookshop

In July 2015, I walked on to the stage at Cornbury Festival, and was handed a piece of paper with these words written on it: ‘CRAMBO-CLINK: Also known as crambo-jink, this is a word for poor quality poetry – or, figuratively, a long-winded and ultimately pointless conversation.’

I now had 15 minutes to write a poem and immediately perform it to the audience. My heart started beating wildly and my mouth felt like I’d eaten a dozen oatcakes.

Of course, I’d known what I was letting myself in for when I’d agreed to be part of Bob Hill’s new show, Poetry on the Spot.

At that precise moment though, it felt like an impossible task, both nerve-wracking and exhilarating.

We are never shown the prompts beforehand, so it really is seat of the pants poetry. The adrenalin rush leads to inspiration, not always divine, and the pressure to produce an entertaining piece in 15 minutes can lead to ‘interesting’ ideas.

Poetry workshop leader Bob first got the inspiration for the show when teaching the ‘cut-up technique’, where a piece of text is cut up into words and short sentences and then randomly re-arranged. The participants came up with some amazing poems so at his next gig he asked the audience to write a line each, prompted by a topical news item, and then constructed a poem in the ten-minute break. I returned to the stage, read it out and it went down brilliantly.

Bob started the show in Bournemouth, where it has become a popular monthly event. Last year he approached me about doing a trial show in Oxford. The audience were so enthusiastic about it that we decided to make it a monthly event in Oxford too.

But it’s not just about making poems up on the spot.

While the poets furiously sweat over their poems, the audience are entertained by jokes and poems from Bob and fellow host Paul Canon Harris, open mic slots from local poets, and a longer set from a feature artist.

The audience also get to flex their creative muscles by donating a line to the group piece.

Poetry on the Spot starts on February 23 at the Albion Beatnik bookshop – first come, first served