1.9: Common Questions
A few FAQ's
What can the audience do?
The official MC spiel of Poetry Slam, Inc. encourages the audience to respond to the poets or the judges in any way they see fit, and most slams have adopted that guideline. Audiences can boo or cheer at the conclusion of a poem, or even during a poem. Audiences never boo a performer in Providence while they are performing. It is an unwritten understanding.
At the Uptown Slam at Chicago's Green Mill Tavern, where poetry slam was born, the audience is instructed on an established progression of reactions if they don't like a poet, including finger snapping, foot stomping, and various verbal exhortations. If the audience expresses a certain level of dissatisfaction with the poet, the poet leaves the stage, even if he or she hasn't finished the performance. Though not every slam is as exacting in its procedure for getting a poet off the stage, the vast majority of slams give their audience the freedom and the permission to express itself.
What is a poetry slam?
A poetry slam is an event in which poets perform their work and are judged by members of the audience. Typically, the host or another organizer select the judges, who are instructed to give numerical scores (on a scale of zero to 10) based 1/2 on the poet's content and 1/2 on performance.
What is poetry slam?
Simply put, poetry slam is the competitive art of performance poetry. It puts a dual emphasis on writing and performance, encouraging poets to focus on what they're saying and how they're saying it.
What is the National Poetry Slam?
The National Poetry Slam is the annual slam championship tournament, wherein four-person teams from all over North America and Europe gather to compete against each other for the national title. It has become part Super Bowl, part poetry summer camp, and part traveling exhibition. Staged in a different city each year, the National Poetry Slam has emerged as slam's highest-profile showcase.
What kind of poetry is read at slams?
Depends on the venue, depends on the poets, depends on the slam. One of the best things about poetry slam is the range of poets it attracts. You'll find a diverse range of work within slam, including heartfelt love poetry, searing social commentary, uproarious comic routines, and bittersweet personal confessional pieces. Poets are free to do work in any style on any subject.
When are the Proidence Slams?
The Providence Poetry Slam is held three times a month.
The first Thursday of the month at 8 PM. Door charge is $5.00 and you should arrive by 7:30 PM in order to sign up for the open mic or the slam. The open microphone starts at 8 PM, followed by a feature and then the Slam.
The fourth Thursday of the month. This slam night has a youth slam and an open slam. The youth slam open mic starts at 6:30 PM and is followed by a youth slam. After a short break a featured performer takes the stage and then we have an open slam. Door charge before 7:30 is $3.00 after 7:30 admission is $5.00.
A middle Saturday youth slam happens every month between the hours of 2 PM and 6 PM. This is a different format slam run like a long open mic. You have to see it because it defies description.
As always, check the Poetry Calendar to see exactly what's happening.
Who gets to participate?
The Providence Poetry Slam and a vast majority of other slam series are open to anyone who wishes to sign up. Though everyone who signs up has the opportunity to read in the first round, the lineup for subsequent rounds is determined by the judges' scores. In other words, the judges vote for which poets they want to see more work from. Anyone who is over 18 can participate in the Providence Poetry Slam. Those under 18 are encouraged to slam in the youth slam. We have had a 10 year old slamming in the adult slam as of late, but that is because he is a poets son and frankly is quite good.
Who organizes slams?
Slams are typically organized by poets interested in cultivating poetry in their communities. The vast majority work on a volunteer basis, and the price of admission typically goes toward either keeping the show running or toward special projects, like funding a slam team's trip to the annual National Poetry Slam.