Monday, September 17, 2012

Vic Slam Update #1

Welcome Back!

The first slam of our season happens this Thursday, and if last week's Tongues of Fire is any indication of what to expect, you had better come ready for an energetic night of some of the best Spoken Word Poetry this city has to offer!

If you have taken the time to read the rules posted on this blog earlier, you will have noticed that there are a few new things in store for this Slam season!  The purpose of this post is to help illuminate why certain decisions have been made, how we plan to carry them out, and to announce an exciting addition to our slams!

Season Ends in May

This year our season culminates with two final shows in May.  This is one month earlier than in previous years.  While the number of shows remains the same with the addition of a night of semi-finals, we also understand that this does remove one regular season slam.  That translates to one less chance to boost your standing in the season, and makes the race for a spot in the top 12 tighter. 

This is a double-edged sword. Poets will need to bring their absolute best to each season slam, which can and will make for some powerful nights of performances, but due to the random nature of the name-draw it can make for some frustration should you not be chosen for a night of competition.  More often than not, the randomness balances everything out, and everyone is given a fair shake at competing.  The draw is random, and as a result can't be predicted.  There is always a chance that things won't balance themselves out.  Stranger things have happened. 

The poetry slam in Victoria is growing, especially with so many new, incredible young poets coming up from the high school slams, and youth slam.  It would not be a stretch to say that on most nights, the sign up sheet will exceed 12 poets.  This means that we could be using the random draw more often. 

We will be monitoring the names that are chosen as well as the number, and names of poets that were not drawn.  We will also monitor the frequency of repeat performers, and in the unlikely event that there is a large disparity between the two, adding an extra slam is something we can look at doing.  We will NOT remove the names of poets who have competed multiple times in one season from sign up sheets. The solution we feel that better addresses this potential issue is to add an extra slam, and only if there is a significant number of people who have continually not been drawn to compete.

Another reason we are ending the season a month early is to give the Slam team some additional time for fundraising. Summers in Victoria are chalk full of festivals of different artistic disciplines, and with each pulling for an audience. The potential for added stress due to a team's financial situation can pull focus away from the writing and rehearsing process, which is the most important part of being on the team.

On that note, the extra month provides the Slam Team with more time to rehearse and write, which should help make for stronger representation at CFSW.


This year we have added a semi-final component to our year end competition.  One of the primary reasons we have added this extra night is to further showcase our top poets from the season.  All 12 finalists must perform two poems at Semi-Finals, with no eliminations happening until the night of competition is over, with the announcement of our top 8.  This is a guaranteed extra round for all performers, and another opportunity for our poets, and audience to be exposed to a night of amazing performances.

Another reason for semi-finals is that the competition becomes far more challenging, as poets will need to bring four poems to make the Slam Team, up from needing only two in previous years.

Finally, we feel that adding an extra night of competition makes for a more exciting end to the season, and creates a bigger buzz for Finals night.

No Repeat Rule

All components of the rule itself are laid out in the previous entry.  We have added the rule that poems performed on Semi-Final, and Final stages, may not be performed at future Semi-Final and Final stages, and we will address this aspect in particular here.

This rule was added with the simple goal of trying to further promote the writing of new poems, and to push poets a bit harder each year to write new pieces.  

This rule was not implemented to "fix" an existing problem, as our community is full of fantastic writers, and it's only growing.  We feel this rule simply helps to reinforce that same sense of innovation and creativity that already exists.

Enforcing this rule is primarily honour based, as is the case in many other Slam communities across Canada.  This is not always the best way to enforce rules.  In our experiences here in Victoria however, we have rarely come across infractions when it comes to repeating poems.  The spirit of this rule is adhered to, and everyone holds each other accountable.

That being said, in the very unlikely event that a dispute may arise, we will be recording all performances at Semi-Finals, and Finals, and will reference these recordings should a poet wish to challenge someone's performance of a certain piece.  

This brings us to an exciting new addition to our Slams...

Recorded Performances

Beginning this year, any poet competing at the Slam will have the opportunity to have their performance recorded, and with their permission have their poem uploaded to a YouTube channel dedicated to showcasing Victoria's poets!  This is a fantastic opportunity to not only show your family and friends the work you've been doing, but also provides us the chance to show the rest of the country the amazing poetry that is done in Victoria on a regular basis!

We are thrilled to finally be able to do this, and would ask for your patience as we start this process, and work the kinks out!  A big thanks to the incredibly talented Rose Jang for taking on this responsibility. 

Thank you for taking the time to read through this!  We cannot wait to get this Slam season under way, and are looking forward to seeing all your wonderful faces, and hearing your beautiful words!  

As always, any questions or concerns can be directed to the Slam Master, Scott Thompson at: 

See you at the Slam this Thursday! Happy writing!

-Vic Slam

Follow us on Twitter: @VicPoetrySlam

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