Av Peter Nyberg
Marc Kelly Smith kallar sig Slampapi på sin hemsida och är mannens om sägs ha ”uppfunnit” poetry slam sådant det är idag. Den enda svenska poet han minns är Bob Hanson, från ett främträdande 20-30 år tillbaka i tiden i New York.
Wich are the basic elements of slam poetry in US?
Although the great majority of slams in the US have lost sight of the root principles that have propelled slam’s popularity and success, the original slam at the Green Mill and Chicago’s slam community still adhere to them. The basic elements of slam can be summed up in three definitions.
1) Slam poetry is performance poetry, the remarriage of the art of performing poetry with the art of writing. All forms of performance technique can be used by slam poets to communicate their poems to an audience effectively. All poetic styles and forms of poetry from the classics to hip hop are welcomed into the slam world. Any poem is a slam poem if it is performed.
2) A Poetry Slam is a highly entertaining, interactive performance poetry event that is an art form in itself incorporating and intermixing musical accompaniment, theatrics, costumes, spectacle, electronic images, dance, etc. with poetic expression in an exploration of what can be achieved artistically in the realm of poetry when the arbitrary constraints of conventional thinking about what poetry is or should be are removed.
3) One form of a Poetry Slam event is an interactive performance poetry competition used as a theatrical device to focus the audience’s attention to the stage. There is no set way to manage these competitions. Each locale and show is encouraged to create its own rituals and system for judging and conducting them.
Have you noticed any diffrences between countries in how they compete in poetry?
Yes, and hopefully someday all slams will throw off the need to conform to any one style of competition and continually reinvent new ways of scoring, judging, and competing. Poetry slam competitions were never meant to be over-serious, formal exercises. They are (to repeat myself) theatrical devices to focus the audience’s attention to the stage.
Why do you think the slam-movement have become so extensive?
By intention the slam has been open to all people and all styles of expression. It has been passed on from city to city, show to show, country to country as a gift from those who have already received the gift. It has not been commercialized (although many self-interested individuals and organization have tried to exploit it) and has become a worldwide phenomenon through the dedication of individuals and groups of individuals with no other motive than the love of poetry, performance, and the communities they serve.
In Sweden slams have been pretty popular and they have formed some of our poetry stars. Do you have any relation to swedish slams or swedish poetry i general?
Many many years ago (in the late 1980s or early 1990s) the first Swedish slammers came to Chicago. It was great fun. For the most part their performance style was very reserved except for one young man who was as demonstrative as any of the American slammers. I cannot recall the names at this moment [Senare minns han att det var Bob Hansson, red anmärkning]. I’ve lost touch with them. I do recall that they even sent a slam team to one of our national events. I have not yet traveled to Sweden to visits slam but hopefully before my time runs out I will.
Which properties do you think a poet in the making can win from attend in poetry slam?
The only ”winning” that matters to me in regard to slam is winning new friends, finding a place and community in which you can share your ideas and emotions, and the ultimate ”winning” of being able to give back to community that has given to you.