Literary critic Harold Bloom has called slam poetry “the death of art.” Concordia creative writing student and poet Michelle Dabrowski sees the movement much more positively. “It’s a means for social change, acceptance, and free speech,” she says.
Dabrowski has organized the upcoming Throw.it.thru.your.Speakers Poetry Slam as an offshoot of her Podcast of the same name. The Concordian caught up with her recently:
Quickly! What is a poetry slam?
A slam is a poetry competition originating from the traditions of poet Mark Smith at the Green Mill in Chicago, starting in the 80s. Ten poets have three minutes each at the microphone to wow five randomly selected judges from the audience. They are timed and scored and the top five move to the second round after which the winner is chosen. Winners often get to feature at the next slam or can move on to bigger competitions along with other team member to compete nationally.
What do you fill your Podcast with?
Spoken word poetry, featured local musicians, poets and artists. The occasional political/environmental call to arms.
If you could have Podcast sex with two famous people, living or dead, who would they be?
[Slam poet] Buddy Wakefield, [podcaster] Soccergirl, and [slam poet] Spencer Butt, who just happens to be featured at The.Throw.it.thru.your.Speakers slam!
What do you hope to accomplish with this slam?
Collaboration between poets through competition. I want the winner to feel like there are more reasons to do what they are doing than “just for themselves” but because people want and need them to. I want to make an environment where we push each other and inspire one another . and help enlighten the public about the value of live poetry.
And with your Podcast?
Just listeners, communication and hopefully entertainment. I’m inspired by the idea of people sharing wisdom and experience globally from their bedrooms. Podcasts are available, easy to start and underground.
So you see Podcasts as a sort of personal expression of the communicative potential of the internet?
Well yeah… you can’t even swear on Am/Fm Radio and you have broadcasters doing their lame “Radio Voices” and they are being told what they can and cannot say. With Podcasts, it’s real people talking about things they care about and they have complete creative control. I think some would argue that Video casts are an even higher mode of communication but I really like the quality of just raw voice.
And would you say the Poetry slam movement is comparable in terms of its potential to communicate?
I would definitely say they are alike. I guess it’s all about the collective experience. It’s a means of social communication that resonates in your gut, giving you goose bumps. When you see someone on stage talking about shit you went through or can relate to it becomes a celebration of how similar and human we all are.
The.Throw.it.thru.your.Speakers.Poetry Slam goes down Saturday, April 14, 8:30 p.m. (8 p.m. to register for the competition) at Café Chaos, 2031 St. Denis. $5.
Check out The.Throw radio Podcast, currently in its eighth episode at www.michelledabrowski.blogspot.com.