#MormonPoetrySlam: An Online Competition
I inaugurated the online competition in 2013 to celebrate Fire in the Pasture‘s second anniversary and expect to host the event annually on fireinthepasture.org. Don’t come expecting your run-of-the-Green-Mill slam, though. Among other things, this isn’t a live, face-to-face event; there are no time limits placed on performances; and participants don’t read their own poems. It is, however, a competition in which individual performances are judged by an audience of the readers’ peers.
Here’s how the online slam goes down:
1. All readers are welcome. You don’t have to be a poet or affiliated with Mormonism to participate.
2. Pick a poem written by a Mormon poet—this poet must be someone other than the reader. The poem can be on any topic and of any length, but it must have been written by a poet (living or dead) who maintains/maintained some affiliation with Mormonism. If you’re not sure where to start, you can find lists of Mormon poets here, here, here, and here.
3. Record yourself reading/performing the poem. At the beginning of your performance, state the title of the poem you’re performing, the poet’s name, and “Read by [your name].” For instance, if I were performing Clinton F. Larson’s poem “To a Dying Girl,” I would begin: “‘To a Dying Girl’ by Clinton F. Larson. Read by Tyler Chadwick.” Be sure your recording is clear and in an easy-to-work-with audio format (i.e., .mp3, .wav, .m4a, etc.). If you don’t have access to audio recording software on your computer or your phone, here are three easy-to-use online resources: recordmp3.org, vocaroo.com, and SoundCloud.com.
Remember: your performance will be judged by an online audience of peers, so perform well. If you want to participate but are anxious about reading your poem aloud, check out these resources provided by the Poetry Out Loud National Recitation Contest.
4. During the #MormonPoetrySlam submission period (usually in September—stay tuned for exact dates), submit your audio file or a link to your audio file (if you recorded it online) via this email address:
Format the subject line as follows: [Your full name] reading “[Poem title]” by [Poet’s full name]. So, again, if I were submitting the performance referenced above, my subject line would be: Tyler Chadwick reading “To a Dying Girl” by Clinton F. Larson.
After the submissions window closes, I’ll post the entries, the rules for judging, and the prizes participants will be vying for.
Two winners will be selected each year: one Audience Choice winner and one Editor’s Choice winner.
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. 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.
The first Live #MormonPoetrySlam took place March 28, 2015, during the Association for Mormon Letters Conference held at Utah Valley University in Orem, Utah. Nine poets performed original poems 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.