Michael Dimitri, president of the nonprofit Salt City Indie Arts, invites all lovers of poetry to the Utah Poetry Slam team competition on Saturday, March 28, at 8:30 p.m. at Baxter’s Coffee, 1615 S. State. The top five performance poets will be chosen to compete this summer at the Poetry Slam Nationals in August in Tampa, Fla.
Aren’t poetry slams really more performance art than literary art?
Performance poetry is a way of taking academic writing one step further and engaging the audience to feel the emotions the poet is feeling. Sometimes, a more remedial language weaves its way into performance poetry so the audience can have an access point of becoming involved with the poem. While some poems are modified from the transition of performance to the written version, many performance poets are published or produce their own chat books.
Winners from this slam are going on to compete nationally. How does Utah fare in such competitions?
Salt Lake City is still relatively new to the National Poetry Slam arena. We continue to work on our writing and performance skills, and our ranking has improved with each year since 2004. Of 70 teams that participate at poetry nationals internationally, we have yet to make it to the Top 10. However, like many teams, we participate for the poetry and not for the points. Which is to say, we value our hearts more than how our hearts fit into a score of digits. We absolutely strive to represent quality poetry.
Name some local poetry slammers who are on the rise.
A few poets other than myself would be Cody Winger, Jesse Parent and [a poet known only as] Deann.
Is it possible to make a living as a slam poet?
We, as poets, are often philanthropists. We write and share poetry to make a difference with our words and not to fill a paycheck at the end of the week. The biggest perk would be a loving community of artists who seek a deeper interaction than our everyday language.
What’s the best opening line of poem that you’ve written or heard lately?
(From “Bravado of the Imagination” by Michael Dimitri) Atoms are just atoms of the anomaly / Scattering pieces of jazz into a trick hat handkerchief. / Pull a thought from your head and there you have it … / you just made another piece of magic with the music / acoustic cranium of thought, / putting breath like a drummer on the drum set! / Do you hear the heartbeat yet?