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Sunday, January 9, 2011

Poetry as extreme sport

me: "i'm going to a poetry slam at the Cantab."
neighbor matt: "are you reciting a poem?"
me: "no, just a spectator."
neighbor matt: "good.  good.  words can hurt."

Boston Slam master Simone Beaubien

I attended my first poetry slam last week, a competitive, winner-take-all poetry reading event emceed by nationally renowned Slam master Simone Beaubien and judged by selected members of the audience.  National Poetry slam rules were followed: original poems of three minutes or less, no props, costumes or music.  Poems were scored by judges with placards on a scale of 1 to 10 with high and low scores thrown out and penalties assessed for exceeding the time limit.  Does it sound crazy, cool, strange, and fun?  yes!  

Over at the blog of the William Morris Society, News from Anywhere, the debut of the Victorian Poetry Network was recently announced, anticipated to provide "a hub for Victorian poetry scholars, teachers and students on the web."  I have a great idea for an event they can sponsor---how about a mock poetry slam with youthful participants dressed as William Morris, Gabriel Rossetti, Christina Rossetti, and Algernon Charles Swinburne among others?  Oscar Wilde and W.B. Yeats could also make appearances.  The anti-establishment Morris would be in his purple waistcoat and likely incur excessive time penalties.  I'd love to be a judge at that poetry slam!