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Author Topic: Publishing slam poetry?  (Read 3138 times)

rajones

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Publishing slam poetry?
« on: February 24, 2010, 11:46:58 AM »
I'll start out by saying that I'm entirely new to slam, so if you hate answering newbie questions, just ignore me ok? I did go back through the last year of this forum to see if I could find some answers but didn't see anything relevant.

I'm interested to know how much of the poetry given at slams gets published in print form eventually (even if your estimate is as rough as "more than half" or "less than half". )

Also, I'm interested to know what slam poets think about publishing poetry that was written for performance.  My uninformed reaction is that it would be positive because more people will connect with your words, but also possibly negative, because the print version is sort of diminished compared to the live performance.  What's your take on that?

AmyD

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Re: Publishing slam poetry?
« Reply #1 on: February 24, 2010, 12:48:49 PM »
I'll start out by saying that I'm entirely new to slam, so if you hate answering newbie questions, just ignore me ok? I did go back through the last year of this forum to see if I could find some answers but didn't see anything relevant.

I'm interested to know how much of the poetry given at slams gets published in print form eventually (even if your estimate is as rough as "more than half" or "less than half". )

Also, I'm interested to know what slam poets think about publishing poetry that was written for performance.  My uninformed reaction is that it would be positive because more people will connect with your words, but also possibly negative, because the print version is sort of diminished compared to the live performance.  What's your take on that?

Well, I think you have to consider what percentage of poetry gets published in print form at all.  I would guess that it is a fraction of a percent.  Popping over to duotrope.com, you can see that there are journals with acceptance rates of virtually zero.

I am personally of the opinion that great performance pieces should ALSO work on the page, but I think you'll find much debate on that, and I would certainly concede that there are performers I like to see live who I don't really like to read.

Ransacked

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Re: Publishing slam poetry?
« Reply #2 on: March 25, 2010, 10:07:24 AM »
I'll second much of what AmyD said.

I'd venture maybe 5-10% of the poetry given at slams gets published "within slam." By "within slam" I mean that it gets published in chapbooks, on CDs, on poetry podcasts/radio shows, or in poetry books and anthologies largely marketed to and purchased by people who attend poetry readings and slams. Publishing houses such as Write Bloody and the Mark Elveld series are mostly aimed at spoken word/slam afficionados.

If you're asking how much of the poetry given at slams ends up in general-audience poetry journals or books, I'd venture it's a statistically insignificant portion.

MattMason

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Re: Publishing slam poetry?
« Reply #3 on: March 26, 2010, 08:15:44 PM »
I don't know; the act of memorizing a poem, saying it over and over and over to myself, leads me to a much more thorough editing process.  So though I didn't expect it, some of my best publications have been slam poems (In Mississippi Review, Poet Lore, and several other magazines as well as anthologies).

So prepping a poem for a slam and being serious about making it a better poem along that process can raise your publication odds.

-Matt
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And Omaha Slam info at: www.OmahaSlam.com
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Steve

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Re: Publishing slam poetry?
« Reply #4 on: March 26, 2010, 08:54:44 PM »
Please check this out: www.IndependentBookFestival.com

It's right up our alley.

DaveSilverberg

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Re: Publishing slam poetry?
« Reply #5 on: March 29, 2010, 07:30:10 PM »
I'm proud to be the editor of Canada's first spoken word anthology, Mic Check (http://tinyurl.com/ylog5co) and it's taught me a lot about what works on the page and what doesn't. Yes, I think performance poetry can make it in print if the verse is well-written, captivating and gives us more than just a bunch of one-liners. In fact, I think great slam poetry on the stage must be well written too, and not just be a blustery performance but that's another matter.

My experience with Mic Check has taught me two things: many book readers look at spoken word sceptically when it's in print form, as in "isn't that supposed to be performed?" There's some education that has to be done, but that's part of the process of bringing spoken word to the page.

I also learned how some poems take on a new shape when they are read. You can take your time with a few lines, really chew on a few well-placed metaphors, instead of being beholden to the performer orating the poem. That's not to say one is "better" than the other, it's just that the reading experience adds a unique nuance to spoken word. It's something that I really want kids to start enjoying, especially since a spoken word anthology validates the art form in the eyes of many old-school teachers.
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Re: Publishing slam poetry?
« Reply #6 on: March 29, 2010, 08:45:36 PM »
rajones hasn't logged back in since the date of his orginal post, so I feel comfortable hijacking this thread and pulling it into a slightly different direction. Two questions.

1. How many slam scenes (show of hands) publish themselves? By which I mean, do you publish a book, chapbook, or CD anthology of your slam team? Of your open mic readers?
Cantab publishes a chapbook each year with 3-4 poems from each member of our slam team. For the past two years, we've recorded an "EP" CD with each team member's "signature" track. I'd love to put together an anthology of our open mic readers, but our open mic comprises over 60 regular readers of varied styles and skill levels. I have no idea how we'd wrangle that down to a cohesive, economically feasible chapbook.


So prepping a poem for a slam and being serious about making it a better poem along that process can raise your publication odds.

-Matt

2. What impact has your participation in slams/ open mics had on your interest in/ ambitions for publishing your work in journals or books?
I used to send stuff to journals, enter newspaper contents, plaster my stuff all over the Web, dream of "making it" as a published poet, but those ambitions have largely died with my involvement in Boston's open mic scene. I can read a poem in front of 100 people at my home venue. How many journals can guarantee 100 people will read my poem?

bobdapoet

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Re: Publishing slam poetry?
« Reply #7 on: March 30, 2010, 01:26:09 PM »
1. How many slam scenes (show of hands) publish themselves? By which I mean, do you publish a book, chapbook, or CD anthology of your slam team? Of your open mic readers?
Mesa has published itself fairly regularly since 1999, with a year or two exception. Some are classics (Oof!, and Oof! 2 are veritable collector's item now), some are long lost to history. None were certifiable best sellers, and all were simple fund raising items. But then, the context in which they were published was as a fundraising item and not a true book to document the community.

Since 2000, also fairly regularly, we have released a CD of our slamoff, and as MP3's have matured as an audio medium, we are seeing a slow, but steady stream of fiscal support over time. The past continues to pitch in for the present and the future, as it were. CD's, as much as I love them, have never been a good medium for our slams. I genuinely think that the revolution in online media will be the best for slam, as it will allow the least amount of capital investment with the greatest potential for return. And as portable access to the internet becomes ubiquitous, that advantage will only increase.

We also have a good 200-300 hours of audio sitting around, waiting for attention, to be cleaned up and released. But when you're one guy, and there new stuff being created all the time, well, you know...

2. What impact has your participation in slams/ open mics had on your interest in/ ambitions for publishing your work in journals or books?
I am going to discuss (not necessarily entirely disagree) your suggestion that Journals somehow would be unable to provide the same number of recipients as a performance would. Having published a literary journal for ten years, and hosted a slam for sixteen, I would say the while each has their opportunities- both have their merits as well.

While people still talk to Mesa poets about their 1999 performances, just as many people send me emails about someone's apearence in Anthology magazine in 1999. There is an immediacy to a live performance that, depending on the performer, can last forever for the people that were there, that not even video can replicate.

There is, however, a lasting record in the journal that can extend far beyond perhaps even the life of the performer, allowing people to discover the value of the creator ad infinitum. the availability of lasting video may start to play into that some, but I believe that print provides an opportunity for the recipient's imagination that video does not.

I mean, to answer your final question, I as a publisher could guarentee that 100 people would read your poem if it were in my journal, they just would not all be in the same room providing instant gratification that seems to have found it's way to the center of the movement.


rajones hasn't logged back in since the date of his orginal post, so I feel comfortable hijacking this thread and pulling it into a slightly different direction. Two questions.

1. How many slam scenes (show of hands) publish themselves? By which I mean, do you publish a book, chapbook, or CD anthology of your slam team? Of your open mic readers?
Cantab publishes a chapbook each year with 3-4 poems from each member of our slam team. For the past two years, we've recorded an "EP" CD with each team member's "signature" track. I'd love to put together an anthology of our open mic readers, but our open mic comprises over 60 regular readers of varied styles and skill levels. I have no idea how we'd wrangle that down to a cohesive, economically feasible chapbook.



So prepping a poem for a slam and being serious about making it a better poem along that process can raise your publication odds.

-Matt

2. What impact has your participation in slams/ open mics had on your interest in/ ambitions for publishing your work in journals or books?
I used to send stuff to journals, enter newspaper contents, plaster my stuff all over the Web, dream of "making it" as a published poet, but those ambitions have largely died with my involvement in Boston's open mic scene. I can read a poem in front of 100 people at my home venue. How many journals can guarantee 100 people will read my poem?

rachel_mckibbens

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Re: Publishing slam poetry?
« Reply #8 on: April 03, 2010, 12:17:11 PM »
My book, while not necessarily "slam poetry" is filled with 90% of the poems I slam(med)
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Steve

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Re: Publishing slam poetry?
« Reply #9 on: April 03, 2010, 10:36:40 PM »
In 2004 we published a book called Off the Mic and it was poems by slammer that may or may not have been on the page. We just sold reprint rights four of those poems to a textbook. When I say "we" I mean The Wordsmith Press, not PSi. Yes, the poets get a paycheck.