Poetry reading gets off its high horse and into the proverbial mud at the 6th Annual Invitational Poetry Slam on Saturday, October 8, at 7:30 p.m., at the Evergreen Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, 1607-4th St. in Marysville.
What is a poetry slam?
"It has been said that a poetry slam is like making bums fight over a sandwich; that the poetry slam is to poetry as paint-by-numbers is to Rembrandt," explained EUUF spokesperson Sandra Lortz. "Yet the Poetry Slam thrives, because it gets people in the door who wouldn't come if the sign said 'Poetry Reading.' The hope is that if this week they come for the Slam, maybe next week they'll come back for the poetry."
The evening, organized by poet slam legend Jack McCarthy of Lake Stevens, is a competition judged by randomly chosen audience members. The less they know about poetry, the better.
Most major cities in the U.S. have at least one regular Poetry Slam venue. Every year there are two major national events that bring representatives of these venues together to compete for minor cash prizes and major bragging rights. McCarthy is the lone Seattle-area representative to the Individual World Poetry Slam, being held this October in Cleveland.
McCarthy is generally considered a legend in the underground world of the Poetry Slam. For the last five years, he has run the annual invitational slam at the Evergreen Unitarian Universalist Fellowship in Marysville. The invited poets typically include a mix of the very best local slammers and some past national champions. Four of the five past Evergreen winners have also won national championships; the fifth was a finalist this year for a Ruth Lilly Fellowship from Poetry Magazine.
"Of the two or three major annual performance poetry events in Washington, the Evergreen Invitational is the only one with really comfortable seats," said Lortz.