Read an Excerpt
Excerpt from Chapter 1: What You Think You Know May NOT BE SLAM
That's what slam is.
I looked it up on Wikipedia."
When the uninitiated hear the term "slam poetry," they say "slam what?" or serve up the quick and easy answer quoted above or the equally facile interpretation that slam is "rap without musicwhat Eminem did in 8 Mile or what that singer Grande Corde Malade does in France." Chances are they got a taste of slam at the French Nationals or at the Starry Plough in Berkeley, but it was only a taste. A deeper drink would tell them more. And here's that drink, served up by the Slampapi himself:
Slams are captivating poetry events that focus a live audience's attention on the presentation of poetry that's been composed, polished, and rehearsed for the purpose of being performedvery often in a competitive arena, but not always. It's a carnival, a pageant, an interactive classroom, a town hall meeting, a con game, a versified boxing match, and a churchlike revival that electrifies and animates the people listening to and watching it.
Competitive slam poets battle against one another like wrestlers vying for a championship belt. Each poet takes his or her turn onstage to play at proving their superiority as both poet and performer. The audience is prompted to get involved, and it does! Crowds have been known to roar approval or stomp their boots in scorn for the poetics they love or pretend to hate.
As you'll learn, competition is not the solitary heartbeat at the core of the poetry slam, but it has been an important catalyst for stimulating poet-performers and audiences around the world to bring back the passion and vitality of words spoken aloud.
In this chapter, we look at what slam is and what it's not. We'll revisit a bit of its history, highlight some of the guidelines and principles responsible for its growth, talk about the unimportance (and importance) of the rules, and introduce you to the spirit that propels most slammers.