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Written by:
Paul Holland
13 Mar 2024

In the dynamic world of spoken word poetry, Sam Elbahja, poet and architect, is poised to make a lasting impact as she prepares for the imminent UniSlam Poetry Competition in Birmingham.

Coming to Trinity Hall from East London’s Tower Hamlets, Sam’s poetic journey began at St Paul’s Way Trust School, where a teacher recognized her rhythmic public speaking skills, nudging her towards performance poetry.

Reflecting on her poetic endeavours, Sam, now in her second year at Cambridge, said: “Poetry lends me an opportunity to be myself. It’s a beautiful way to express vulnerability and delve into themes that resonate deeply with my personal experiences.”

This personal insight feeds into poems like “Blocks” and “The Central Line”, reflecting on her urban experience in London.

Despite the challenges of balancing UniSlam participation with her demanding Architecture degree, Sam embraces the dual roles:  “Being here in Cambridge has encouraged me to be more myself. It’s an opportunity to connect with diverse individuals across different degrees, bridging the gap between academic poetry and the raw, authentic narratives of London.”

The UniSlam team, comprising Sam and four other members under the guidance of a coach, will face a competition that evaluates participants not only on performance but also on delivery and expression. Sam’s unique style has even caught the attention of renowned fashion brand Ralph Lauren, for whom she crafted a poem when she was still at school.