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Poetry Slam

Written by on September 9, 2019

poetry slam is a competition arts event, in which poets perform spoken word poetry before a live audience and a panel of judges. Culturally, poetry slams are a break with the past image many may have had of poetry as an elitist or rigid art form. While formats can vary, slams are often loud and lively, with audience participation, cheering and dramatic delivery. Hip-hop music and urban culture are strong influences, and backgrounds of participants tend to be diverse.

Poetry slams began in Chicago in 1984, with the first slam competition designed to move poetry recitals from academia to a popular audience. American poet Marc Smith, believing the poetry scene at the time was "too structured and stuffy", began experimenting by attending open microphone poetry readings, and then turning them into slams by introducing the element of competition.

The performances at a poetry slam are judged as much on enthusiasm and style as content, and poets may compete as individuals or in teams. The judging is often handled by a panel of judges, typically five, who are usually selected from the audience. Sometimes the poets are judged by audience response.


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