Tucson is no stranger to performance poetry--remember Poetry-O-Rama, hosted by Dennis Prieto, with the spinning wheel, the speed round?--and yet, this new dealie is a whopper. Hosted by Gary Mex Glazner, editor of the anthology Poetry Slam and producer of the first National Poetry Slam, this event promises to raise the roof of the Screening Room on April Fourth.
Raise the roof? What's the difference between a slam and an open-mic reading? Again, I'm glad you asked. A poetry slam is like a lyrical boxing match that pits poets against poet. Yes, there's prize money involved, too. During a bout, teams of poets (as well as an individual poet) take turns performing their work. Judges score each poem from 0-10. The teams can choose to perform a group piece during a member's slot, or that person can perform alone. Poets who perform alone have the opportunity to advance to the individual finals even if their team doesn't make it as a unit. Consequently, strategy comes into play when team members decide whose slot will be sacrificed for a group performance that may earn the entire team points. Unlike theater or music performance, poets aren't permitted to use props, costumes or music. Unlike open-mic performances, each poet has a time limit of three minutes.