National poetry slam held in Decatur
For the poets, the competition is about more than scoring high or winning. Audience members and participants alike chant throughout the night that “the point is not the points - the point is the poetry.”
This week, the National Poetry Slam (NPS) makes it way into Decatur for its 26th annual competition. Officially beginning Tuesday, after the opening ceremony Monday night, the competition will showcase the country’s best poets and poetry groups with performances lasting until Saturday.
The NPS allows poets a limited amount of time to perform their piece in front of 5 judges randomly selected from the audience. Performers are scored on a scale from 0.0 (the lowest score) to 10.0 (the highest score). Over the course of the week, individuals and groups are eliminated until the national champion is crowned.
Both a national and local movement, 2016 marks the first year the competition will take place in Decatur. Host city coordinator Daryl Funn won a bid in 2013 to host the competition in the city, guaranteeing that Decatur will put on the NPS every five years.
In an interview with WABE, Funn said the slam “is like the world’s biggest poetry battle. There’s nothing bigger than this one,” Funn said. “About 400 poets, 72 teams, spanned over six days. For the first time, bringing it to Georgia, is like the opportunity of a lifetime.”
For the poets, the competition is about more than scoring high or winning. Audience members and participants alike chant throughout the night that “the point is not the points – the point is the poetry.”
That’s one of many cheers you’ll hear: unlike most poetry performances, audience members at slam competitions are encouraged to whistle, holler, snap, clap, and yell to support the poets. Cries of “yes, ma’am” and “amen” follow intense points, while gasps and snaps come after incisive moments.
In addition to the bouts, events include workshops, open readings, discussions and other presentations from professional poets and past champions.
Activities will take place at Java Monkey, Little Shop of Stories, Agnes Scott and CORE Dance studio. The top four teams will compete for the national title at the Sidney Marcus Auditorium of the Georgia World Congress Center on Saturday, August 6 at 8 p.m.
A full schedule, tickets and more information can be found on the NPS website.