Thursday, May 27, 2010

When a slam isn't slammin'

Recently, I've been invited to participate in two poetry slams—something I'd never done before.

And I still haven't.

I appreciate the invitations to read, but these are readings in the usual way, where each person gets up and has 10 minutes or so and then is done. That works for me, but it doesn't fit my understanding of how a poetry slam proceeds.

So I checked. From the Poetry Slam, Inc website:

A poetry slam is a competitive event in which poets perform their work and are judged by members of the audience. Typically, the host or another organizer selects the judges, who are instructed to give numerical scores (on a zero to 10 or one to 10 scale) based on the poets' content and performance.

(Which might explain why I haven't participated in a slam before.)

So what's with suddenly calling everything a "slam"? Is "reading" too boring? Will calling a reading a "slam" inject it with a sudden knock-down vigor?

Do readings need to change? See Martha's post on how to have a most excellent poetry reading for some ideas.

Or do we just need a new word? "Event" sounds too corporate.

Poetry party?

Poetry bash?

What would you call it?

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