A Brief History of Spoken Word
Poets battling each other in head-to-head competition might seem a novel idea, but it's hardly new. The ancient Greeks threw down rhymes for sport, and Japanese warriors often rumbled with haiku in order to spare each other's lives for the battlefield.
Modern poetry slamming began in 1986 when a Chicago construction worker named Marc Smith brought the thrill of competition to the mix at his weekly poetry reading at the Green Mill Lounge.
The idea caught on and spread quickly across the country - and the world - and now there are more than 100 poetry slam venues in the U.S. and many more stretched across Europe. What began as a bar game for poets who wanted more from their shows has now become what The New York Times called "a cultural force."
What is a Poetry Slam?
A Poetry Slam is a performance poetry competition. Anyone can participate. Poets are given three minutes to step up to the mic and perform one original poem of their own construction. No props, costumes, or outside accompaniment are allowed. After the poem is finished, it is given a numerical score between zero and ten by a panel of five judges who have been selected from the audience. These judges may have never heard a poem read aloud before. Slam is about the idea that everyone's opinion about a poem is a valid opinion. The high and low scores are dropped, the remaining three added together, and the poem has a score.
Out of this ongoing competition, a new breed of entertainer has evolved: the Slam Poet. Skilled in both writing and performing, these artists are versatile, engaging, entertaining, and thought provoking. They come to the stage as the next logical step in artistic evolution - a one-person synthesis of theatre, poetry, stand-up comedy, monologue, and performance art. Armed with arsenals of poems on topics ranging from politics to convenience store workers, from sex to religion to Crunch Berries, Slammers are portable, short-attention-span theatre.
How Did The Teams Get Here?
Each of the 75 slams at Nationals represents a slam series with competition open to all. The best poets from each slam series compete for spots on a team - each team is allowed between three and five members - and once the team is formed, they work together for several months to hone their individual poems and to write and rehearse group poems. Teams pay registration fees and raise their own travel expenses through a variety of fundraisers in order to participate in what is part conference, part competition, and part poetry summer camp.
How Does A Team Competition (Bout) Work?
Each bout features five teams, with the lineup determined through a random drawing. Teams draw for their order in the first round just before the bout starts, and read in that order in the first round. Each team may send an individual or group poem. If an individual poet reads in a bout, he or she may not read another individual poem in that bout, though he or she can perform in an ensemble piece elsewhere in the bout. In the second and third round, teams read in an order determined by their team scores - the highest-scoring team must read first in the round.
All 75 teams compete in preliminary bouts in the first three nights of the tournament. On Friday night, the top 25 teams (determined by their ranks and cumulative scores) compete in five 5-team bouts. The winners of each of those bouts face off against each other in the Saturday night team finals at the Paramount Theatre.
Official Website: http://nps2007.com/
Added by zhaoshouren on August 6, 2007