SlamNation

Slammin' Becomes SlamNation

Posted by Paul Devlin:
 
I had completed my television pilot shot, Slammin’, shot at New York City’s Nuyorican Poets Café, and was shopping it to TV as a series. By then I was hooked into slam poetry in a big way. So in the summer of 1995 I went on a pilgrimage of sorts to Ann Arbor where the National Poetry Slam was happening that year.

There I met the movement’s founder Marc Smith. Man, did he give me the evil eye! He did not trust television people and he was very wary of someone appropriating and perverting the great thing that he had started. He also did not like the fact that Slammin’  was centered in New York, a place he was naturally suspicious of, being from Chicago.
 

 
So he and poets Gary Glazner and Allan Wolf sat me down, and explained their vision of where slam poetry should go and their reservations about putting it on television. I listened carefully and their interest in maintaining the integrity of the movement and keeping it inclusive to represent the diversity of slam poetry across the entire country had resonance. This meeting is the seed that germinated into SlamNation. Eventually I became good friends with all of them and part of the community myself.
 

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SlamNation - Saul Williams Interview: Part 3

 
Posted by Paul Devlin:
 
Part 3, Saul Williams on the influence of hip hop on poetry.
 


These series of poignant moments with Saul Williams were captured by our dear friend Gabrielle Bouliane, poet and filmmaker, who recently lost her battle with cancer.  Originally intended as DVD extras for SlamNation, we offer them now as a tribute to the talent of both Gabrielle and Saul.
 

SlamNation DVD 
SlamNation Trailer

SlamNation - Saul Williams Interview: Part 2

 
Posted by Paul Devlin:
 
Part 2, Saul Williams on the influence of hip hop on poetry.
 


These series of poignant moments with Saul Williams were captured by our dear friend Gabrielle Bouliane, poet and filmmaker, who recently lost her battle with cancer.  Originally intended as DVD extras for SlamNation, we offer them now as a tribute to the talent of both Gabrielle and Saul.
 

SlamNation DVD 
SlamNation Trailer

SlamNation - Saul Williams Interview: Part 1

Posted by Paul Devlin:
 
Part 1, Saul Williams on the influence of hip hop on poetry.
 


These series of poignant moments with Saul Williams were captured by our dear friend Gabrielle Bouliane, poet and filmmaker, who recently lost her battle with cancer.  Originally intended as DVD extras for SlamNation, we offer them now as a tribute to the talent of both Gabrielle and Saul.
 

SlamNation DVD 
SlamNation Trailer

SlamNation - Patricia Smith Jukebox

Posted by Paul Devlin:
 
Patricia Smith is a master of the persona poem, taking on the voice of a character in order to give us insight into their story.
 
 
Here is the complete performance from a poem excerpted in SlamNation.
 

SlamNation DVD 
SlamNation Trailer

SlamNation - Jerry Quickley - "Door Broken"

Posted by Paul Devlin:
 
A young Jerry Quickley gives great energy in this hilarious outtake from SlamNation.
 
 
He went on to become one of the foremost performance poets in Los Angeles.
 

SlamNation DVD 
SlamNation Trailer

SlamNation - "Words Don't Fit in My Mouth"

Posted by Paul Devlin:
 
Jessica Care Moore delivers a poetic mouthful in this outtake from SlamNation.
 


 

SlamNation DVD 
SlamNation Trailer

SlamNation - Let the Be Bee

Posted by Paul Devlin:
 
Back before everyone had a video camera in their pocket, SlamNation co-producer Tom Poole lent a camera to muMs da Schemer (HBO's Oz) and that gave us fresh, candid footage of his fellow Nuyorican slam team mates, Saul Williams, Jessica Care Moore, and Beau Sia during their journey to the National Poetry Slam.
 
 
Here's a little sample of them goofing off and just being themselves, before they became famous.

SlamNation DVD 
SlamNation Trailer

Slam Poem: Team Austin - "Motor Red"

Posted by Paul Devlin:

Here's the complete version of a classic "group piece" from Team Austin excerpted in SlamNation.

Team Austin had become masters of these ensemble poetry performances, and they were highly favored to win it all at the National Poetry Slam in Portland as a result. Group pieces generally score higher than individual performances. However, Team Austin scored poorly in the finals, and no one is quite sure why. Perhaps there was some backlash against too many group pieces, and the audience wanted to hear more individual voices?

In any case, as can be seen here, Team Austin was great at group pieces, a genre of performance poetry unique to the National Poetry Slam.

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SlamNation Trailer

SlamNation: H. M. Naqvi - "I, Carnivore"

Guest post by H. M. Naqvi:

My Fifteen Minutes: An Anecdotal History of the Golden Era of Slam Poetry

 

If I remember correctly, I ambled into a smoky, neon-lit joint on the periphery of civilization in the District of Columbia of yore, around the corner from the stretch patrolled by transvestites teetering on heels and desperate johns in slow jalopies. I was new in town, had five fifty in my pocket, and knew nobody. Parking myself on a barstool, I ordered a drink from a stout character sporting dreadlocks. “You ready, baby?” he asked in a stentorian tenor. “Cause it’s show time!”

Two shabby characters took the stage. One delivered an impassioned disquisition on the construction of identity, ontology and Cheeze Whiz. It was primal, electric, theatrical, occasionally meaningful, recalling Vachel Lindsay’s “Congo” or Ginsberg’s “Howl.” There was scattered applause among the malcontents who had assembled. They assembled every Monday evening. The audience, I learned, decided who would proceed to the next round. I had walked unbeknownst into a poetry gong show. By the end of the evening, the applause was louder than a circus. (The bartender, for some reason, would periodically holler, “I don’t need your money!”) The loser was booed off stage. The winner was awarded fifty bucks. Fifty bucks! I thought. What a goddamn boon!

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