We tried a trick like that in 1995. Had each team bring a "qualified" judge and assigned them to bouts their teams were not in. They judges didn't show up. They wanted to be entourage. Haven't tried since. Still think it is generally a bad idea.
Not what I'm proposing.
PSi is a national organization. Granted, this might require future consideration because it may require funding. The idea is to identify people throughout the communities of spoken word, entertainment (read: not necessarily celebrities), academia and publishing who can be a part of the festival, perhaps conduct workshops and showcase, and provide some kind of standardization for the event. PSi would probably have to pay for their travel, which is why it might require future consideration (or if we can pull from local high schools, colleges and universities if we are in a town with enough schools, and area talent agencies and publishing houses).
Not only might this add legitimacy to slam as an important realm of poetry, it might help showcase slam by word-of-mouth through other industries.
Ever see the beginning of the movie Finding Forrester
? It's a raw open of a young kid freestyling. Another popular thread in this forum is "slammers breaking through." Wouldn't it be nice to see one of those melodramatic scenes where the actors just stare out the window and contemplate with the tonal music be augmented with a spoken word poem? How cool would it be to have a poetry slam or an open mic be the setting for a scene (it's in one of my unsold screenplays, but I digress). How about if in So, I Married an Axe Murderer
, Mike Meyers did spoken word instead of beat poetry? Right now, all there is is Demetri Martin parodying slam on his Comedy Central show, "Important Things." Is that how we want to be known outside our domain?
Just listing a benefit, not suggesting PSi or slam sell out. If every team has to contend with the same crappy judges then there'll be no complaints that a team with an emphatic 1 is ranked lower than a team that lucked into a high-scoring 1 because the judges started throwing up 10s in the first round of the bout.
True, what I propose would take some time to enact, but I think the conversation is worth having. I would like to know what the Slamily thinks of standardized judging at the national event. I'm not suggesting ripping the fabric from Marc Smith's loom - I'm suggesting the national event be given a leveling to differentiate it from local and regional slams, and all the expectations that come from them. I mean, how will someone who is a regular at, say, the West Palm Beach slam, compare their local team to a team from Iowa or New York or Vancouver? Bring in impartial ringers to do that for us, let the audience sit back and drink and cheer.