Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Poetry Slam

I received this book for my birthday a couple of months back and have been reading through it leisurely. Poetry Slam The Competitive Art of Performance Poetry is edited by Gary Mex Glazner and published by Manic D Press. Don’t you just love the publisher’s name?
I have never been to a poetry slam and I don’t believe there are any nearby, I’ve tried looking. However, this book is a wonderful read to learn about the art of performance through poetry and there are many poems from various slams included.
I normally review individual poets however there are too many to name in here so I will focus on what I’ve learned as a result of the book. How a poetry slam works: Basically you have the poets who are willing and ready to stand up in front of the crowd and entertain through their poetry. There are judges, and the judges are picked at random from the crowd. This happens at every show. Some slams have rewards for the best poet but it is entirely up to the venue.
General Rules for Slams: For national competitions, this book sums up the rules nicely. Poets have three minutes to perform their poem and points are deducted for going overtime. No one is allowed to use props or costumes but you can imagine that some people may wear clothing and accessories that leads others to argue as to whether they’ve broken the rule. Also, the poet must read their own poems, which seems simple enough. Unless you’ve co-authored a poem, and then it can be a bit tricky.
The book includes plenty of wonderful slam poems and one in particular caught my eye, and that is a poem titled “America (It’s Gotta Be The Cheese)” by Eitan Kadosh. I loved this poem so much I recited it animatedly and loudly several times to my husband. I’ll admit my husband could leave or take poetry but he loved this poem, too. The poet essentially boils down the essence of America into its love for processed cheese, such as your Kraft Singles, individually wrapped, and ties the cheese into all kinds of American cultural icons and moments. For example: “who shot J.F.K., J.R. Ewing, J.C. Penney—its gotta be the cheese/internment camps—it’s gotta be the cheese/the WWF—it’s gotta be the cheese/” and it continues. It doesn’t end every line with “it’s gotta be the cheese,” by the way. It does have a great flow if you read it aloud and certainly inspired me to want to give slam poetry a try.
If you get a chance to read this book you should, it can give you perspective on slams vs. poetry readings and perhaps get you involved if you aren’t already.

Thanks for reading, please stop by tomorrow for more poems found by poet hound….


Talia said...

I think there are quite a few clips of poetry slams on YouTube, though much of didn't seem to me like poetry, but rather, speech or comedy competitions. It's not my thing, but as an English teacher I'm not ruling it out. I think it is a very appealing approach to poetry to some who may never approach it at all.

Poet Hound said...

I think it's nice to give people options for poetry like Poetry Slams, especially the timid.