Center for Arts hosting slam poetry tonight

This week in April we’re going to talk a little bit about slam poetry.

Slam poetry is a style of spoken word poetry generally used in competitions, like a poetry slam. The topics typically written about are more aggressive and passionate than your typical poem because they’re being performed and shared for a competition or for an audience, and sometimes both.

The slam movement became very prominent in the 1990s and continues to be a driving force in the arts community. Some frequently touched topics include gender injustice, sexuality, racial and economic injustices, as well as current events in the news.

A “slam” itself is a poetry competition in which poets perform original work alone or in teams before an audience, which serves as judge, although sometimes there are actual assigned judges.  The work is judged as much on the manner and enthusiasm of its performance as its content or style, and many slam poems are not intended to be read silently from the page.

Typically the judges will score out of 10, and the lowest and highest scores get scratched, and then whoever has the biggest score after all the rounds, wins.

The structure of the traditional slam was started by construction worker and poet Marc Smith in 1986 at a reading series in a Chicago jazz club. The competition quickly spread across the country, and slams happen frequently in every state.

For example, even here in the Cedar Valley, we have a bimonthly slam. There was one in February 2017, and, of course, one today, Friday, because it is National Poetry Month.

A local organization, SaYes2Poetry is hosting the slam at Waterloo Center for the Arts, from 8-11 p.m. tonight. The slam is free admission to watch, and $10 to enter the slam. All work has to be your own and does not have to be memorized.

The first place winner takes cash home and gets an encore performance, so bring extra poems just in case you win.

At this slam there will be three rounds, plus a final for the winner, and five judges who will give scores after each performance. Hosted by Chillin da Concious Poet, it’s sure to be a good slam.

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