Poetry Slam Set To Hit Central Penn Campus

By Norman Geary

Media Club Reporter

The Central Pen Literary E-Zine and Professor Maria Thiaw’s ENG330 Contemporary Writers of Color students will be hosting a poetry slam on Sept. 7, at 7 p.m., in the Capital BlueCross Theatre in the Underground.

Performers will be competing for prizes: 1st place, $100; 2nd place, $50; and 3rd place, $25.

These are the rules for the event:

  • Poets will have 3 minutes to perform, with the clock starting when the performer begins talking.
  • There will be no introductions or disclaimers, absolutely no apologies, and there will be no props.
  • The poem each poet performs must be his or her original work.

There will also be a panel of judges which will include faculty and students.

To compete in the poetry slam, send an email to the centralpen@centralpenn.edu. Include name, major and name of the poem to be performed. Prepare two poems, in case of a sudden-death round.

Thiaw said participants will be judged not just on the quality of their poems, but also for on-stage presence.

A Slam Preparation Workshop will be held on Aug. 31, at 3:30 p.m., at the Knight Writers Meeting, Milano Hall, Room 17.

 Isaiah Isley performing his original work in the 2013 Poetry Slam.


Isaiah Isley performing his original work in the 2013 Poetry Slam.

Mistress of Ceremonies will be Ladi Glori, an inventive and creative spoken-word artist.  She was born and raised in Maryland. Glori has been featured in a number of poetry events and television shows.  Glori also has teamed up with musicians, dancers and other poets to offer her multifaceted talents in the arts community.  She is coauthor of a book with five poets (Below the Belt, 2012) and creator of a CD, Mute the Background (2011).

“Slams are really entertaining and you should encourage your friends,” Thiaw said.

Poetry slams have been very popular since the 1990s and are well received by young poets across America.  While slams have seen some opposition in academia, they have proven to be a considerable force generally.

Content of slam poetry typically targets politics; broad social issues; and racial, economic and gender injustices.

According to poets.org, the structure of the traditional slam was started by “Slampappi” Marc Smith in 1986, who performed at a reading series in a Chicago jazz club.  With Smith’s success came a kind of rebirth of poetry performances, and the coining of the term “slam.” The term and movement spread rapidly across the country.

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