Slam poetry is, in itself, a conundrum. Slams are competitions in which poets are judged by random audience members on their poem's content, delivery, and overall performance. The notion that poems can be "judged," as if there were some standard they could be measured against, almost seems to cheapen the sanctity of poetry, taking moments of intense introspection and emotion and turning them into nothing more than cheap entertainment. Even Marc Smith, the creator of this problematic competition, has called judging poems "completely absurd." Nevertheless, slam poetry has seen a nationwide rise in popularity, graduating from dark, late-night bars to week-long festivals held around the country. In an attempt to document this phenomenon, below is a slideshow of some of the quintessential slam poetry venues and events in the US:
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