POSTED ON NOVEMBER 3, 2010:
Slam Dunk for Art
Unconventional art form comes to Tulsa
“I love the diversity in slam,” Hunter said. “Everyone’s style of reading their poetry is different. Some are funny, some reverent, some loud.” While slam poets can read their poems quietly one common characteristic of many slam poets is the tendency to express their poems with high emotion that is “in your face.”
Through its Art After Hours programming, the Broken Arrow Arts and Humanities Council is sidestepping from its typical arts programming to expose residents of Broken Arrow and Tulsa to poetry as a unique art form and exciting competition.
The organization will be hosting its first Poetry Slam, sponsored by Parrish Company Realtors and The Arrow Group, on Nov. 4 from 7-10pm at the Stonewood Coffee and Tea Company, 449 N. Stonewood Drive East in Broken Arrow.
A poetry slam is a competition between poets judged by members of the audience. This unconventional art form has solid followings in cities such as New York City, Los Angeles, Atlanta and Chicago, yet is a bit slower to catch on in cities such as Tulsa. Living Arts has been hosting Poetry Slams and spoken word performances since the early '90s and by and large has been the only area organization consistently providing performance opportunities for these artists.
This poetry slam is open for anyone to participate in and is in no way limited to artists with a background in poetry or experience at Poetry Slams. To get the event started and keep it moving throughout the evening, local celebrated spoken work artist Deborah J. Hunter will host the event by explaining the rules, talking a bit about the history of slam poetry and breaking the ice with a sacrificial poem.
A poet all her life, Hunter's poems, like those of many slam artists, speak to contemporary social justice and personal issues. For many years, Hunter has been dedicated to implementing a supplementary poetry curriculum into schools in the Tulsa area. She has worked as a Poet-in-Residence through organizations such as the Arts and Humanities Council of Tulsa, the Oklahoma Arts Council and the Oklahoma Humanities Council's Art Out Loud Programming. Through these organizations she has taught poetry as a form of writing and expression in both community and school settings. In all of her teaching, Hunter not only asks participants to write their own poetry, but also read it out loud. The goal of her interactions with students and individuals is to build self-esteem through creative self-expression.
In addition to implementing a wider variety of artistic programming to its repertoire of events, the Broken Arrow Arts and Humanities Council is hoping to reach out to a younger and more diverse group of people through this program.
"We are excited to expand upon what we do," said the Poetry Slam's Co-Chair Kelley Rash. In between rounds, local band, The Calamities will play. The regular house band at the Nightengale Theatre, The Calamities play original songs reminiscent of the B-52's and David Bowie.
For those looking to participate in the event, they need only to sign up at Stonewood Coffee up until the evening of the Slam and pay a $5 entry fee. The entry fee is then redistributed and awarded to the first, second and third place winners at the end of the event.
From the list of participants, the performance order will be selected at random. Five audience members will be chosen before the event begins to serve as judges throughout the evening. The judges each award a score between one and ten with highest and lowest score removed. Each poet will have three minutes to read one original poem and may not use props, costumes or musical instruments. After all the poets have performed, the poets with the highest scores will move on to a second and potentially third round where the winners are determined.
"I love the diversity in slam," Hunter said. "Everyone's style of reading their poetry is different. Some are funny, some reverent, some loud." While slam poets can read their poems quietly one common characteristic of many slam poets is the tendency to express their poems with high emotion that is "in your face."
"The poetry is important but the presentation is just as important," Hunter said. During Slam, the audience is allowed to impose significant influence on the judges' decision and consequently the type of people in the audience can play a huge role on who will win the competition.
Tulsa has tried over the years to assemble a professional Slam Team to compete at the National level. Unfortunately, funding a team to send to the National Poetry Slam has proven very difficult. The hope of many of Tulsa's seasoned Slam Poets is that the art form will catch on with younger people and solidify a multi-generational following of slam artists that will grow throughout the city. In the meantime, Oklahoma is still represented at the National Poetry Slam. Oklahoma City has a slam team that participates in Nationals each year, and last year, a Tulsan made the OKC slam team that traveled to nationals.
The Art After Hours Poetry Slam is the first of what will hopefully become many Poetry Slam and Spoken Word events to take place around Tulsa. Living Arts has long been building momentum for the art form and it is time other organizations jumped on board.
More information about this event is available at artsba.org.
URL for this story: http://www.urbantulsa.comhttp://www.urbantulsa.com/gyrobase/Content?oid=oid%3A33451