A Slam Tutorial
Christopher Fox Graham's picks for a typical slam
The following include my choices for a generic three-round slam, using my own poetry.as the fodder.
My personal preference is to hit the first round with either a flash and bang poem, a silly poem, or one of my memorized favorites. I have a terrible case of nerves before a slam, and hitting a polished piece gets me over the hump.
For round two, I prefer, like a lot of other poets, to perform a slow, personal, meaningful poem. A running joke among many of us in the national slam scene is that "In round two, everybody dies." These are where the breakup poems, death poems, suicide poems, and sorrowful poems find the most traction. The crowd is more subdued and willing to accept what you have to say. The flip side is that if the three or four poems ahead of you are personal poems, but low-energy downers, I sometimes throw a humorous poem to change the energy. If the scores are low, 7s and 8s, this can often score a high 8 or in the 9s. This sometimes backfires if the scores are higher because the audience wants to stay serious.
Round three is the most loose. If the night has been high energy, I go out high. If it's low energy, I usually perform one of signature poems or a polished poem. If I have a big lead or I'm way behind and statistically unable to place 1st, 2nd, or 3rd without more than a perfect 30, I'll perform something new that likely scores lower, just to test the piece. Also, if I'm in a situation where I'm feeling sentimental about the venue, the date, the slam itself, or personally, I'll perform a poem with personal value and forget about the scores. Additionally, I there's someone in the audience who I want to hear a particular poem, this is where I throw it.