Slamalamadingdong! is going PSI, or Poetry Slam, Incorporated, certified. Here’s what that means.
In the 1980s, a construction worker named Marc Smith (SO WHAT?) invented the poetry slam, a unique competition where randomly selected audience members scored poets’ performances on a numerical scale and chose the winner. The format quickly gained popularity all over the States, and eventually the world. Poetry Slam, Incorporated, or PSI, is the official non-profit organization that oversees the international coalition of poetry slams – and Slamalamadingdong will soon be certified as an official PSI slam.
What does that mean for Slama?
The biggest change will be the number of rounds. All PSI-certified slams have three rounds, as opposed to Slama’s one round. This gives poets a chance to showcase a variety of their own, original work to and build rapport with the audience, as well as respond to the poets before them, over the course of several rounds. The time limit, 3 minutes and a 10-second grace period for one poem – that starts as soon as the poet makes a connection with the audience, verbal or otherwise – will remain unchanged, and points will still be deducted for going over time. The no props, costumes, or musical instruments rule is still in place. Each judge will score each poet from 0 to 10, and though there are five judges picked from the audience – none of whom are intimately connected with any of the competing poets – the highest and lowest scores will be dropped, meaning each poet will receive a score between 0 and 30.
The new creative producers of Slamalamadingdong, Arielle Cottingham, Sam Ferrante, and Will Beale of the Three Ring Circus Poetry Collective, aim to use PSI certification to bring the poetry of Melbourne to the international stage. With PSI certification, Slamalamadingdong will be eligible to send poets to compete in the Individual World Poetry Slam, Women of the W
Food and poetry — two things that should go together far more often than they do. Sure, you can order food at whatever bar a majority of the poetry events in Melbourne take place in, but then you’d be missing out on the home-cooked smorgasbord of treats and sweets at Ms Millie’s Pop-Up Poetry Cafe.
Held in the increasingly popular performance space Next Level Studios, tucked into an alcove on Victoria St. in Brunswick, Miss Millie’s is one of the most racially diverse open mics held in Melbourne, thanks to creator Jay J Larkin’s decision to quietly exclude alcohol from the menu, allowing practicing Muslims to be present and enjoy local poetry without having to compromise their beliefs. In doing so, Larkin has created an incredibly safe space for minorities to share their poetry and connect with other poets who may or may not frequent the pub poetry scene as well.
The poetry itself is as varied as the audience, with pieces ranging from serious page pieces to silly wordplay to strange imagery to profound identity pieces. Seasoned poets who had been writing and performing for years share the stage with a good number of first-time performers given a unique opportunity to step out of their shells and onto a lamp-lit stage in front of a warm, inviting audience.
In order to get onto the open mic list, poets must contact Larkin via the Ms Millie’s Facebook page prior to the date of the actual event itself – a simple private message once the call has been put out as a status update on the community page will do. Hitting the Like button on the official Ms Millie’s Facebook page will send you a notification of when that call is put out.
As for the experience of performing, the space at Next Level Studios is an upstairs wood-floored dance studio with mirrored walls, which reflect the previously-mentioned lamp light back into the room, making it bright enough to see the audience quite clearly, and f