Let’s go retro. A 1998 poem by Bob Holman:
Why Slam Causes Pain and Is a Good Thing
<< sigh. why does this have to be such a pain?
Because Slam is Unfair.
Because Slam is too much fun.
Because poetry rules.
Because the poetry gets lost.
Because you cannot reduce a poem to its numerological equivalent.
Because it’s poetry in everyday life every Sunday at 7:30.
Because I can do that.
Because everybody’s voice is heard. Because Old White Guys as usual.
Because it’s the opposite that includes the opposite.
Because do not institutionalize the anti-institution!
Because it’s meant for middle and high schoolers so they get adrenalin poetry shots.
Because Pepsi and Nike have conflicting ideas about the team uniforms.
Because Allen Ginsberg says, “Slam! Into the Mouth of the Dharma!”
Because Gregory Corso says, “Why do you want to hang out with us old guys? If I was young, I’d be going to the Slam!”
Because Bob Kaufman says, “Each Slam / a finality.”
Because Patricia Smith has more truth in little finger than entire Boston Globe front page.
Because Marc Smith and because Chicago.
Because Nuyorican Poets Cafe and multi-culti.
Because rap is poetry, and Hip Hop is culture.
Because poetry an endangered species Slam revivifies.
Because three minute pop song.
Because the point is not the points.
Because judges selected whimsically are instant experts.
Because the National Slam is summer boot camp for poets.
Because first six years only women win Indy Slam Champ Boot.
Because local heroes finally have national community.
Because democratization of art.
Because Dewey Decimal System of Slam Scorification to reduce possibility of Ties and Dreaded Sudden-Death Spontaneous Haiku Overtime Round.
Because Best Poet Always Loses.
Because Taos Heavyweight Poetry Bout Championship.
Because when in the course it looks like poetry is disappearing, the furious uproar of the Word will not be stilled.
Because performance is a see-through page, and the oral tradition a hidden book.
Because it’s called Slam.