Many of the world’s best slam poets will be in St. Paul next week competing for the nation’s title, including the 2009 winners, Soap Boxing, St. Paul’s amazing slam team.
What is Slam Poetry? (From the National Poetry Slam 2010 website. To learn more, including volunteer opportunities, click here.)
What Slam Is
1. Poetry Slam is competitive spoken word performance poetry.
2. It puts a dual emphasis on both writing and performance.
3. Though rules vary from slam to slam, the basic rules are:
*Competing poets have 3 minutes (plus a 10 second grace period) to perform one poem of their own construction.
*They may not use props, costumes or musical accompaniment.
*Each poem/performance is then given a score (on a scale of 0.0 to 10.0) by five “judges” who are audience members randomly selected by the emcee at the beginning of the Slam.
*The high and low scores are dropped, giving the poet a score ranging between 0 and 30.
*Most Slams have two or three elimination rounds. The highest scoring poets at the end of the Slam win prizes.
What Slam Is Not
1. Slam is not a serious academic critique on literary skill. It is a game, a show, and a means for poets to share their work with an engaged audience.
2. Slam is not an insult filled hip hop battle. Slam is not rap. Though some poets use elements of hip hop in their writing, Slam is a literary art form, not music.
3. Slam is not poets making things up as they go along. Weeks, and sometimes months, are spent writing, memorizing and even choreographing a performance.
4. Slam is not a bunch of angry performers yelling about social issues. Slams bring an incredibly diverse array of demographics, voices, styles, topics and points of view.