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Poetry Slam: The Competitive Art of Performance Poetry Paperback – September 30, 2000
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From Library Journal
"Poems ask only that they be heard, which is the purpose of the slam," Bob Holman says. It has been ten years since Glazner produced the first National Poetry Slam (perhaps best described as a competitive reading), but many poetry enthusiasts remain virtually unaware of the phenomenon. This volume collects an assortment of slam poems and articles about the slams (setting up, judging, becoming participants, and group pieces). Some articles, such as Lisa Martinovic on using props or Daniel S. Solis on slam aesthetics and strategy, are elemental but extremely useful, while Patricia Smith's brilliant piece on persona poetry adds little to the concept of the slam. Adding to the confusion is the growth of the audience for slams and the broadening of their scope to include many poets published by the academy. Are these the same poets whose poems work perfectly well on the page and would not readily be labeled "performance" poetry? Contributors' notes would have been useful. "Good slamming starts with good writing," Solis states, although at times the material here seems closer to stand-up comedy. It's not perfect, but, considering how sparse slam literature is, this book should prove an asset to all poetry collections.DRochelle Ratner, formerly with "Soho Weekly News," New York
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Kerouac's ghost must wonder at how formulaic slam poetry has become. From the aggressive, ideological depth of Ginsberg and Burroughs, we now have the regurgitated flavors of Whitman-wannabes evoked pretentiously in the pop-soliloquys now barraging modern poetry readings. Yet, the slam has introduced thousands of young poets that poetry is worth their time. Glazner demonstrates this inconsistency, but not intentionally as we see the up and down quality of the poetry samples he provides.
An excellent part of the book is the description of poetry slam rules, distinguishing local and national rules, and how this form is meant as an oral art form, not a written one. This is the challenge faced by every slam poetry book: how to present it. Some poems here make the transition, and there a few gems worth a read. Marc Smith, founder of the slam, has "My Father's Coat." An interesting poem called "Ali" by Michael R. Brown. opens with the compelling "Five inches shorter than his fighting height" shows some fine imagery and intriguing approaches to poetry meeting culture.
For a deeper look at Beat literature, see the "Beat Reader," or for poetry only, "Beat Poets" edited by Carmela Ciuraru. "Poetry Slam" is a good start, but these books will provide better examples of the style and quality slam poets esteem to reach.
Not just a book of poems, throughout the work are placed a great many essays written by long-time, well-known National slam poets (Taylor Mali, Danny Solis, etc.) about nearly every aspect of reading and performing one's work...a long-overdue codification of information for performing poets at ANY level.
Some of the poems contained within are national favorites, a few legend, but they ALL contain a lesson about performance poetry: that it starts on the page.
A MUST have for any poet who is (or is considering) performing their poetry before audiences in any capacity. A necessary bit of packing for any poet with national aspirations of slamming, touring or just reading.