How to Host a Poetry Slam Event
A poetry slam is a competition between poets to win a cash prize. If you are interested in hosting such an event, there is an easy process to follow to make your slam a success.
Find a venue. Speak to the owners or managers of local coffee houses, theaters, auditoriums and cafes. Many businesses are willing to let you use their space to host if it means it will generate more business. Have information about dates, times and the expected number of attendees and competitors before you make your proposal. Poetry slams are usually not free events. These competitions depend upon of drawing in a crowd of people who pay to watch the competition.
Generate interest in your event. Make sure you include information about where the event will be and what the competition requirements are. Post your information in places where it will generate the most interest, including places where local artists and poets might frequent. Try posting flyers at bookstores, coffee shops or at other weekly venues that host weekly open mic nights. Visit local night clubs where local artists and writers frequent, and hand out flyers by hand. Many cities also have local spoken word artists who are well known within their "poet" community.
You may draw a bigger crowd by extending a special invitation to well-known artists, especially if he or she is going to compete.
Most poetry slams require competitors to prepare a selection of poems. You also need to include information about how much the event is going to cost to attend and enter. Many times the poetry slam's cash prize is obtained from the money made at the door. If you plan to give a cash prize of $100 you will want to make sure your door entry fee accommodates that.
Find qualified competition judges. The best judges for a poetry slam are artists and poets. Components like word play, delivery, flow, creativity, originality and stage presence make all the difference in a competition. A fellow artist will understand how the blending of these components can make or break a performance.
It is also a good idea to have a diverse selection of judges. Poetry comes in all forms. Some spoken-word artists have a style that is very theatrical and animated. Others can be rather soft spoken. Others have a very abstract style. It's best to get a variety of judges to represent all different styles.
Judges should also be aware that they should not hold any biases for the competitors to ensure a fair competition.
Set up the venue the way you want it to be. Make sure to have plenty of seats for your guests, and include a row of chairs on the "stage" for the competitors.
Rules for slams vary depending on the event, but most slams ask competitors to choose another competitor to battle. This means each person will recite a poem. The judges will decide who gave the best delivery and select a winner. This process continues until their is one poet remaining. That poet receives the grand prize.
Randi McCreary has been writing professionally since 2005. Her work has been featured in "Black Praxis" Second Edition, the NoMoreSilentCries anthology, "Present Magazine," "Riseup Magazine," and "Essence." She is the author of "Sweet.Water.Horizion" and is a tenth year educator with a B.A. in English from the University of Missouri-Columbia and a master's in education from Avila University.