Mosaic / April 29, 2009

Slam poetry comes to Galesburg

The third annual Poetry Slam was held at the Cherry Street Brewing Co. on April 25. Marc Smith, the creator of Poetry Slam, moderated the event. He introduced himself to a politely quiet audience.

“We have to teach the newcomers,” he said. The first rule was that the appropriate response to a poet’s name and introduction is “So what?” Other rules for the slam were that no poem could exceed three minutes and “if there is a rhyming poem and you guess the rhyming word, you may say it in unison and watch the poet’s face.” If a poem got too long, audience members should snap their fingers or stomp their feet, and if it offended the feminists, they should hiss in order to show it.

Competitors at the slam recited poems with subjects ranging from humorous to heartbreaking. One poem was about laziness. “Like Nike. We need a logo. Ok. (The poet made a check mark motion.) What is this? Just do it.” Another poem was about bulimia. “I’ve seen pictures of blackened lungs, but cannot imagine your corroded cravings.” Another was an ars poetica. “I’ve written under the influence but my license has not been revoked.”

After a particularly emotional poem about the death of a teenager’s father, Smith said, “The academics criticize the slam sometimes because they don’t realize that poetry’s about people showing their hearts and their minds, not about a museum.”

Unfortunately, the Cherry Street Brewing Co. was double-booked, and many poets had to make their voices heard over a rock band playing covers of Green Day and Billy Joel in the next room. However difficult it was, though, they did have an opportunity to express themselves and bare their hearts and minds.

The top three rated poets won cash prizes of $300, $150, and $50. Entrance to the competition was free.

Kaeli Winberg

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