This past Saturday, I hosted nine poets in the first Live #MormonPoetrySlam. It was sponsored by the Association for Mormon Letters, who made space for us in this year’s mini-conference. As I’ve noted on the site’s new #MormonPoetrySlam page, the Live #MormonPoetrySlam is an outgrowth of the Mormon poetry group reading events I’ve planned since Fire in the Pasture released. Michael Hicks once called these group events “live poetry anthologies” because they allow space for many poets to voice their poems and show how the community of poets so involved is a living community whose canon of texts is constantly expanding. I think that occasionally integrating some friendly competition into such gatherings keeps the performances lively (and audiences awake!) and has the potential to enliven the Mormon poetry community as new poets and listeners join more established participants. I was excited that I had never met five of the nine poets who participated, though I knew of two of them.
During the event, the poets performed original poems (which is different than the online competition) and over the course of three rounds, four judges whittled the field down to a winner—a reluctant slammer who knew her audience well and presented poems that tickled the judges’ sensibilities. I thought it was, in the words of Shawn Bailey, “a riot.” In my first act of poetry advocacy this National Poetry Month, I’ve uploaded video files of the event to YouTube. The full slam is embedded below. You can find recordings of each round and the winner announcement here, here, and here. I hope to create a playlist of individual performances throughout the month and to make audio files of the performances available, too. That will make the experience more amenable to social media sharing.
Anyway: here’s the video of all performances. Watch it. Enjoy it. Share it.