Slam is the competitive art of performance poetry, rap or emceeing, where participants perform their orginal poems before a loud and voluble audience and a panel of judges selected randomly from that audience. Slam is an interactive event, where the audience is as integral to the spirit as the performers are. The respect slam is organised by the Poetry Society for the Mayor of London to coincide with the respect festival - the capital's largest free multi-cultural festival. It is open to all 12-18 year olds living in London who are prepared to write around the theme of 'respect' - respect for each other, respect for themselves, respect for the city's diverse cultural communities. The respect slam has just completed its second successful year, and the importance of the event to young people around London has been proven by the numbers taking part more than doubling this year.The respect slam is supported by professional performance poets and hip hop artists, who visit schools, youth centres and theatres helping those who have entered to craft their poetry and evolve their stage techniques. All those who qualify are eligible for one of these free 3 hour visits. All entrants receive both book and spoken word cd prizes, along with certificates. Those who make it to the finals spend a day in The Exchange recording studios laying down their poems and raps for a CD that is made generally available to the public. They also become a part of the respect showcase team, and perform at the respect festival, this year staged before a huge audience at the Millennium Dome. There are 2 more prizes awarded to The Judges Choice ( which goes to the artist or artists who most accurately reflect the theme and whose work proved to be the most promising throughout the project), and The Audience's Choice (which goes to the highest scoring in the all of the qualifying slams). The Audience Choice prize is a high-quality microphone and certificate signed by the Mayor of London, and The Judge's Choice prize is a week with a professional performance poet, developing a performance poetry set. Both prizes come with attempts to find gigs for the winners. Possibly the greatest prize on offer is the increased self-respect and self-confidence that the competition instills in the participants. Previous entrants have gone on to present youth programmes on the BBC, to audition for major adverts and one is currently signing to So Solid Crew records. After the competition ends there are more opportunties on offer for those committed to a spoken word career: a regular slam team workshop, gigs and more training. 2003 saw the project link up with Pure Poetry at the Soho Theatre to provide further training for those interested and solo performance space.
name: Joelle Taylor
phone: 020 7420 9892
venue: City Hall, Millennium Dome plus other arts centres
The Poetry Society
22 Betterton Street
NEAREST TUBE STATION: COVENT GARDEN OR HOLBORN