Stanza and deliver

Saturday 2nd July 2011

SLAM poetry has been around for a while now. You’ll find them on the programme of many annual festivals, which is why I am about to catch a bus to Ledbury, there to host the tenth such event at the town’s lovely Market Theatre.

Top hat, stop-watch, whistle, list of entrants, score sheets for the judges, poets’ introductions. What have I forgotten? Ach, the tie-break envelope. Not in the usual folder. I must have left it behind at the last one we did. Never mind. I’ll come up with something.

Spontaneity and uncertainty are essential: random draw; ticking clock; virgin voices; seasoned slammers offering new material; will all the poets actually turn up?

Must go pack the bag. Here’s a version in verse of what it’s all about:

The Poetry Slam

The poets compete
in a number of heats
with three minutes each
during which to try and reach
the hearts and minds
of those discerning kinds
who listen to what they say
and respond in their own way
with tears or cheers
laughter or applause
with cries of encore
or a silent pause

It’s sharp it’s loose
it’s tender it’s mean
it’s poets being heard
it’s poets being seen
it’s poetry in motion
it’s poetry in yer face
it’s the spoken word spoken
with power panache and pace

Judges judge and the audience reacts
it’s competitive and lively
and some would say perhaps
it’s a bit like the booker
because occasionally you find that some crazy…
…poet emerges as the winner who is not
a slam champ but just a brave beginner
who has the guts to get right up
and stand and deliver
a stanza that captures
the moment and enraptures
those who are there

It’s poetry unpaged
it’s poetry alive
from poets the undisguised
gladiators of the word
it’s a poetry guillotine
it’s poetry executed
by poets the undisputed
legislators of the world

So beware of the wham bam jam
of tonight’s fast and furious poetry slam
verses lyrical satirical
rhetorical and topical
it’s always theatrical
and occasionally hysterical

Tickets aren’t expensive
but there is a slight chance
of the gig selling out
so why not book in advance

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