This is something for all you “scene-sters”: For this week’s post I decided to focus on an Alternative Art form called Slam Poetry. The Mercury Lounge in Ottawa hosts Slam poets who come from all over the city to compete the first Saturday of every month.  Slam poetry is a competition between individuals who recite their own work and then are judged by members of the audience. The individuals produce various poems that can take on numerous forms. Some of them are similar to the rhythm of rap music while others are creatively sporadic or just plain weird.

So how is this Alternative Art? Well the Capital Slam poetry club is part of the Capital Poetry Collective (CPC) which is:

A group of dedicated volunteers who are supporters and/or practitioners of spoken word poetry. The aim of the Collective is to produce series, showcases and artistic initiatives that advance the awareness of and interest in performance poetry in the National Capital Region.

The Slam poets of Ottawa produce a form of alternative art because their collective does not depend on a hierarchical power structure which prevents unilateral control. The collective diminishes gender, racial, class divisions because their content can sometimes have the power to eliminate these divisions. The collective also eliminates these divisions as the judges are randomly selected from the audience. The relationship with the “audience respect[s] and promote[s] the same values and norms internally pursued, particularly those of openness, dialogue and full communication” (Albert,1997).

They achieve this by allowing anyone to compete and have their voice heard. They also promote this because the content the poets produce is sometimes reflective of social movements that are directly impacting the community. Sometimes the content is reflective of these issues but sometimes the content is completely personal or just for fun.

This give all, take all approach is permitted by their elimination of hierarchies which could have the power to constrict their content. “The Collective endeavors to provide: organization, collaboration, diversity, community involvement and advocacy”. While slam poetry does not conform to all of the qualifications of alternative media, it produces an art form that is not regularly heard or seen in the mainstream media as well as it produces a participation and creative depot for artists to discuss issues, opinions or randomness in a space that listens.