the underground art form of poetry slams


Have you ever wanted to know what it is like for a hipster to make fun of the entire hipster species?

Well, that’s what slam poet Neil Hilborn did in his poem, “The Mating Habits of the North American Hipster.”

Even though slam poetry has gained a lot of notoriety, it’s still an underground art form that needs much more credit! It’s nothing like analyzing that piece of literature in English class.

It can be performed at a plethora of events, like a coffeehouse open mike or a slam session. At an open mike, anyone can read his or her work and, depending on the venue, has three to five minutes.

Open-mike sessions are great because there is no pressure; however, if you want to see something really cool, you should check out a slam session.

What is a slam session, you may ask?

Slam is basically designed for the audience to react vocally and openly to all aspects of the show, including the poet’s performance, the judges’ scores and the host’s banter. Since spoken word is written first and foremost to be heard, content doesn’t matter and it’s not censored. Therefore, if you attend a slam, beware of some dark, twisted, vulgar content like love, alcoholism, depression and rape (it’s a pretty common topic, you will come to notice).

Just because a slam may only last a few hours, competitions aren’t one-stop events. They are held on a weekly, bimonthly and monthly basis, depending on the certified and registered venues. There are also tournaments every year, including NPS (National Poetry Slam), CUPSI (College Unions Poetry Slam Invitational), WoWPS (Women of the World Poetry Slam), IWPS (Individual World Poetry Slam) and Youth Speaks (a slam organization dedicated to providing poetics as an educational tool).

Performing is not limited to individual acts; poets can perform in pairs and teams. There are endless possibilities to keep the audience on its toes.

If you want to compete, you have to register to become a PSI member, which can be done at the official website. Just create an account, register and pay your dues.

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