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What is Slam Poetry?
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What is Slam Poetry?

Slamming is competitive poetry; where the emphasis is on 'good writing', 'good performance' and 'warmth of audience response'.

A Brief History of Slam

Slamming began in America. It was invented by construction worker/poet Mark Smith in August 1986. The first slam was held at The Green Mill Lounge, Chicago. He invited the audience to play a major role by asking them to judge the poets, using scorecards. Mark Smith says: "The slam is about poets performing professionally to an audience they care about, allowing that audience to enjoy themselves, while presenting them with the most profound and heartfelt poetry the poets can muster."

Slamming is exhilarating for the poets, who know that they must be impressive and engaging, performing poems that are relevant to people today (some so up to the minute that the ink's not dry!)

It is exciting for the audience, because they help to decide the winners. The Poetry Slam was deemed the 'Best Slam in Europe' at Cheltenham Festival of Literature.

A Brief History of The Poetry Slam

The Poetry Slam initiated slamming in Bristol in December 1994 - it proved to be extremely popular. Our slams draw very large audiences, engaging with and enjoying poetry (many for the first time).

We held our much loved monthly Open Slams in Bristol until June 1998. The UK Poetry Slam Championships was held at the Watershed on 22 November 1997 and featured 14 teams from around the UK receiving extensive media coverage.

We have promoted many of the leading lights of the contemporary poetry scene, including, John Hegley, John Cooper Clarke, Murray Lachlan Young, Ian McMillan as well as Brett Anderson (from Suede) and actor Paul McGann.

Every year, we hold annual flagship events during Bristol Poetry Festival and Bath Literature Festival.

Since 1996, we have facilitated a growing educational programme throughout South and Central England, including primary, secondary and adult education, plus prisons, rehabilitation centres and teacher training.

From 2005 we have been managing Corporate Workshops and Staff Team-Building Days, plus Corporate Entertainment and Conference Icebreakers. Clients include: RAC, Bristol Education Authority, Bristol City Council and the BBC.

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