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Albuquerque Prepares to make History with First Slam Poet Laureate Program in the Nation
Albuquerque, NM, September 1, 2008. Albuquerque Mayor Martin Chavez and NM Poetry Tangents are preparing to make history with a new Slam Poet Laureate Program. This historic program promises new opportunities for spoken word artists.
Slam is a competitive art form where poets perform their works in front of an audience and up to five randomly selected judges. The competitive element and random nature of selecting judges means that poets must find a creative means to perform poems in ways that will translate clearly to the audience. Because of the theatrical edge this creates, poetry slam strives to balance the quality of writing with the dynamics of performance. Many see this as a way of making poetry entertaining and the interest this has created in audiences around the country has spawned television shows and movies; as well as a national championship that draws thousands every year. Often, more than 70 cities send teams to compete at these national events.
In 2005, Albuquerque hosted the largest national poetry slam in history. Hundreds of thousands of visitors attended the events over the course of a week. In the process, Albuquerque poets walked away with the national title as well.
“The precedent set in 2005 really establishes the fact that Albuquerque is looking to the future artistically. That perspective makes it the perfect stage for finally recognizing everything slam has contributed to reawakening interest in poetry,” states Kluckman. Pointing to the significant decline in national interest after the reign of the Beat poets, he explains that after construction worker Marc Smith created slam in the late eighties, “poetry found an enthusiastic new voice and a contemporary following in cities all over the country”.
Beginning in May of 2009, the city of Albuquerque will take the next step forward by hosting a Slam Poet Laureate program. The program consists of three nights of competition, with guest performances by established poets, a series of workshops and one-time events held around the city. These events are designed to create a festival atmosphere and encourage interest and knowledge of poetry. The final night of competition at the KiMo Theater will see one of twelve poets walk away with the title, presented by Mayor Martin Chavez. The new Laureate will be presented with prizes, a cash stipend, and the opportunity to represent the city at public events for the term of one year. This recognition respresents the first time in history that any level of government will officially recognize the title.
For details and schedules on this program, or to register for the competition, visit http://www.nmpoetrytangents.org or contact Zachary Kluckman at tigerbrighttiger@
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NM Poetry Tangents operates as a community-based agency with a strong focus on advocacy. This includes advocating personal growth through the self-expression uniquely found in literacy and poetics, as well as advocating for the presence of poetry in the daily lives of communities as a vital contemporary art.