Thursday, April 11, 2013

Here Comes the Slam


The Poetry Council of North Carolina has sponsored a series of contests for NC poets for 61 years. Three years ago the Council added a poetry slam to its annual contests. On April 20 the Council will hold its third slam as part of Poetry Day at Catawba Valley Community College in Hickory.

A slam is not exactly “your father’s poetry reading.” A slam is a contest of live performances of poems with an emphasis on the “performance” element. The first competition known to be called a slam, took place in Chicago in 1986.

Poems entered into a slam can run the gamut from traditional formal poetry to avant garde performance poems, from the personal to the political, from inspirational spoken word to riveting dramatic monologue.

The rules are simple. The poem must be an original composition of the performer. The performance can last no more than 3 minutes, and no props, costumes, or background music is permitted. Judges are chosen randomly from the audience.

The Poetry Council Poetry Day Slam has a $5 entry fee and prizes of $35, $25, and $15. Up to three Honorable Mentions may also be selected by the judge. Poetry Day is attended by a diverse, multi-aged audience, so slam poems are pre-screened for appropriateness.

To enter the Poetry Day Poetry Slam, the poem, and name, address, phone number, and email address of the performing poet should be emailed to Shane Manier at Registration may be allowed at Poetry Day, but no more than 20 performers will be allowed to enter the contest.

Poetry Day activities begin at 9:30 and conclude at 3:00 and will include readings by all of the Poetry Council’s annual contest winners. Visit for more information.

Bob Moyer, Slammaster of the Winston-Salem Poetry Slam and drama instructor at the NC School of the Arts, won the first Poetry Council Poetry Slam with his performance of “Things Fall Out of My Father.”

by Bob Moyer

his partial plate lands on the place mat
we look at it we look at him he
gives a gap-toothed grin we
smile my mother and I

things fall
out of my father
he dwindles day by day the earth draws him nearer to her
the body of a ten year old
the voice of a five year old floats up from the back seat
are we there yet we
smile my mother and I

fall out of my father
a brown stain runs down the back of his pant leg
he cups his hand under his butt as he dances hi
anorexic two-step towards the restaurant restroom
past the waitress scraping garbage showing cleavage
she doesn’t mean to she doesn’t see me she doesn’t see
him but my father thinks everybody sees him

and I don’t know what to do when
things fall out of my father

I find the answer aisle ten bob and carl’s supermarket
adult medium sized diapers I buy them take them home
in the dim light of the dining room my father’s son
puts a diaper on him the plastic elastic replicates
the wrinkle in his skin

I’ve come full cycle haven’t I he says we
smile my father and I

and then my father says the thing that makes me see what to do when
things fall out of my father –

people write poems about things like this don’t they

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