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Old 02-25-2002, 01:16 PM
heroin bob heroin bob is offline
Join Date: Feb 2002
Location: louisiana
Posts: 163

Is there a certain type of freeverse poem that is more sucessful then others in poetry slams? (implying that the poems are all well written). What types are generally more taken to by audience members? Would one prefer something with almost a "silky" rythem with flow, something provakative, perhaps something flat out depressing, what works best with audiences?
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Old 02-25-2002, 03:33 PM
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MEHope MEHope is offline
Join Date: Mar 2001
Location: Belgium
Posts: 1,522

Having only seen a few poetry slams (ahhh, cable) and I've been live at one venue (during the National Slam in Providence) I'd have to say the audience responded well to those poets/performers who carefully inserted humor, music, rhyme, anger and voice inflection/body language. But after the show I had the opportunity to read the poems and without the performance they didn't translate to the page. Much the same way a song will grab you but won't work as a poem. The presentation holds the pieces together.
I enjoyed the Slam but wouldn't want to spend an afternoon reading poems written for slams. So in answer to your question you've got to work the crowd. See if you can find Fred...he seems to have seen a few more slam/performance pieces.

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Old 02-25-2002, 05:50 PM
heroin bob heroin bob is offline
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Location: louisiana
Posts: 163

thank you much. I will look for this mysterious fred.
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Old 02-25-2002, 08:04 PM
JohnBoddie JohnBoddie is offline
Join Date: Feb 2002
Location: Landenberg, PA, USA
Posts: 199

HB - Without further ado, I offer you:

JB's Sure-Fire Guaranteed Method for Placing Well in Poetry Slams

Think about figure skating.

As with figure skating, success in poetry slams is a combination of technical merit, presentation and the bias of the judges.

Bias of the judges. You can help yourself by looking for the loosest slam you can find, preferably one where the audience picks the winners and there's only an MC.

Technical merit. This is worth about twenty percent of your score. A few things to keep in mind:

You need a solid signature line that you can come back to. A good example is something like "The revolution will not be televised!" (the line comes from Gil Scott-Heron).

Structure your stanzas so that you come back and hit your signature line at least once per stanza.

Keep your stanzas down to about ten lines each and see if you can crank out five or six of them.

Avoid complex ideas or structures leading up to a conclusion. The signature line is the piece and all the other lines should support it.

In the body of the stanzas, it's much more important to have sonic continuity than narrative continuity. If it sounds really good, it doesn't have to stand up to detailed analysis.

Multi-syllable words get extra points if you can make them stand out. Don't use foreign words unless they're reasonably well known and avoid long words with obvious Latin roots.

Presentation: This is eighty percent of the score. Nothing succeeds like energy at this point.

Slow down your delivery. Make each line into a javelin you throw at the audience.

Make your body language project to the audience. This is not the time to slump back and be cool. Even if you are doing a piece on seduction, reach out to pull your audience in. Move around, wave your arms, play air guitar.

Avoid topics like depression, militarism or any of the normal teen angst stuff. Find something that's out of the mainstream. "Without the Toyotathon, civilization will die!" "Where do they put the toilet in a Stealth bomber" "Britney gave me a reason to live"

Memorize, don't read. Practice with a tape recorder (or a videocam). Time yourself.

Have an extra poem in reserve.

That's about it. Go have some fun.

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Old 02-25-2002, 08:26 PM
heroin bob heroin bob is offline
Join Date: Feb 2002
Location: louisiana
Posts: 163

Would something like this be appropriate?

Sometimes I play pretend.
Four feet tall, the masked rider strikes down the red man.
Bang. Bang. Bang. Youíre dead.
Am not.
Are too.

But then it went away.
I looked at my pale white gun,
Cocked at the thumb,
and put it in my pocket
For the final time.

Jimmy, Johnny, Jerry,
whatever his name was,
used to be that dirty injun.
He forgot about me.
I was alone.

I play pretend sometimes.
Take out my pale white revolver
and stare at it for a while.
Try to imagine it turning black,
Cocked at the thumb.

I was walking in the rain one afternoon
and, it felt like bullets.
I saw Sally, Jenny, Amy,
whatever her name was,
choked on my own contempt
and was gone before I got there.

I made myself forget about playing pretend.
Iím too old for these stupid games.
I am tired.

Put that pale white six shooter away, kid.
You might actually hurt yourself one day.

But I am just playing pretend.
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Old 02-25-2002, 08:44 PM
JohnBoddie JohnBoddie is offline
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Location: Landenberg, PA, USA
Posts: 199

HB -

Zero sonic continuity - zero points.

You don't need to have everything end-rhymed as with most rap material, but you need to be conscious of the sounds that you're using and the rhythms that will carry the sounds.

This turkey just lies down on the page. I tried reading it aloud and damn near fell asleep before it ended.

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Old 02-25-2002, 08:49 PM
heroin bob heroin bob is offline
Join Date: Feb 2002
Location: louisiana
Posts: 163

maybe this...? Sex is a good topic

Sucked into a vortex of soft brown eyes
And haunting memories of slow kisses
Circling my neck
Of numb fingertips
Dancing down my spine
The warm cotton sheets
The gray shadows formed by repetitive movements
Entice me softly, not with words
But with your silken hand touch
Interlacing with my own
Let me be absorbed into you
And experience hunger
With eyes closed
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Old 02-26-2002, 01:23 AM
MacArthur MacArthur is offline
Join Date: Jan 2001
Location: Portland, Oregon, U.S.A.
Posts: 1,317

I was looking at the thread below on List or Catalog poems. That's basically the idea.

The slam-piece Boddie mentioned not only has a repeating line-- the revolution will not be televised-- at the end of each stanza, but (as I recall) a lead-in: "The revolution will be..." to introduce long lists of parallel items, with frequent rhymes. The tag line concluded each list.

Longer is better. Try to find out how much time is allotted. You must memorise, and recite letter-perfect.

One more thing. You won't win.
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Old 02-27-2002, 06:02 AM
Elle Bruno Elle Bruno is offline
Join Date: Sep 2001
Location: SoCal USA
Posts: 6,425

Bob -go to a few slams -there's lots of local ones where they beg people to perform, and also beg the audience to volunteer themselves as judges. The pieces are timed- much longer than any of the poems you suggested. So I think that either of the poems would be a great basis for a slam piece, they would need to be developed and expanded.
Practice Practice Practice
Slam has a lot to do with stage presense. And even nervous stage presense is good. It's all about the energy.

John has given great advice- it is a winning formula.
One thing I would add to the tag line suggestion.

Ever time you hit the tag line- change the stress:

The revolution will NOT be televised

The REVOLUTION will not be televised

The revolution will not be TELEVISED

People are suckers for that sort of thing.

Another thing- it's fun. Best Dee
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Old 02-27-2002, 04:07 PM
heroin bob heroin bob is offline
Join Date: Feb 2002
Location: louisiana
Posts: 163

thanks. And after tonight I will know what works. But I have been told there is difference between "southern" poetry slams and "northern". As the poetry of southern slams are more narrative and regular, while you describe the "revolution will not be televised" northern type. So I am going to stick with the piece that I have been working on. if I dont win anything oh well I got my first bit of experience and will see what others do. if mine stands out like a thorn in a pile of something that isnt thorns hten I will develop something based from that. Not to say I am going to disreguard your opinions all together. But before I jump right into a style I know nothing about I am going to stick to what I know. and keep it short this time.
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