Poetry Slams and Performance Poetry
A poetry slam is an informal competition. At a slam, anyone can get on stage to read a poem - and the standards of quality rest entirely on the subjective appreciation of randomly chosen members of the audience, who rate poems, Olympic scoring-style, from 0 to 10. Academia's seal of approval is neither required nor sought. Poetry slams are usually held in coffee houses, pubs or cafes. There is a national network and a national competition is held every year.
The slam has proved itself a viable art form, and many poets who got their start there have infiltrated the mainstream. Paul Beatty went from the first National Poetry Slam to publish two well-received volumes of poetry. (Big Bank Take Little Bank and Joker, Joker, Deuce) To find a poetry slam in your area check out the National Poetry Slam Web site.
Check out these NewsHour transcripts and video: the 1999 poetry slam and teen poetry slams in California
Back to NewsHour Extra's Poetry Site