Just for Fun, Poets Compete in Poetry Slams in Oklahoma City Area

Article excerpt

He had exactly three minutes to tell his life story - points were taken away for every second longer he spoke. He ended his poem with a shattering, shocker of a line that elicited audible gasps from the audience. After the applause died down, he got the feedback he was really waiting for: five members of the audience held up an Olympic- type score for his performance. The judge that gave him a "6.2" was vehemently booed by the crowd.

It's called a poetry slam, and it's one of a handful of poetry events that take place in the Oklahoma City area on either a weekly or monthly basis. In addition to the grueling intensity of the slam, there are more laid-back and family-friendly readings held at bookstores, cafes, libraries and other venues throughout the metro area, offering a variety of styles that attract differing audiences.

The one thing all of the poetry readings hold in common is the quality of the poetry presented, said Carol David Koss, a fixture in the Oklahoma poetry community, as she has helped organize a multitude of poetry events over the last 20 years through the Individual Artists of Oklahoma.

"I think Oklahoma has, in poetry as well as in all the arts, an incredibly rich mine to explore," said Koss. "We (Oklahomans) tend to underestimate ourselves, but we have wonderfully talented people in all the arts."

The Individual Artists of Oklahoma sponsors three poetry readings in the metro area: at Galileo's Bar and Grill in Oklahoma City every Wednesday night, at Full Circle Bookstore in Oklahoma City on the last Sunday of each month, and at the Benedict Street Marketplace in Shawnee on the third Thursday of each month. …