It might seem bizarre to reduce something as abstract as a poem to a hard numerical score. To understand the philosophy of poetry slam, you must understand its history. The poetry slam was invented by Marc Smith, a construction worker in Chicago in 1984. He was frustrated by snooty, elitist poets who appeared to have no interest in connecting with a live audience, and decided to stage a poetry reading in which the audience would have a way of giving the poets direct feedback – through scores.
The very word ‘poetry’ repels people. Why is that? Because of what schools have done to it. The slam gives it back to the people…. We need people to talk poetry to each other. That’s how we communicate our values, our hearts, the things that we’ve learned that make us who we are. ~ Marc Smith
Slam is a phenomenon that has spread throughout the world. One of France’s most celebrated slammers describes it this way:
Le slam est peut-être un art, le slam est peut-être un mouvement, le slam est sûrement un Moment. ~ Grand Corps Malade