Over two decades ago, the Poetry Slam—a raucous poetry competition where random audience members serve as judges—was invented by a Chicago construction worker who felt driven to bring poetry back to the people. It worked, and the popularity of the poetry slam and its poets has created a passionate new generation of writers and audience members, particularly among those demographics traditionally underrepresented in poetry (youth poets, queer poets, poets of color, among others). But how has all this attention and pressure a¤ected the poetry created within the Poetry Slam? By breaking down the Poetry Slam movement into three defined waves, Aptowicz explores how the use of humor as a strategy within the Poetry Slam has evolved over these years. By focusing on specific humorous poets who have succeeded within the Poetry Slam, she shows how these poets have had an ever-changing idea of what it meant to be a slam poet, both in terms of the type of poetry and performance expected of them, as well as the type of rewards they themselves expected if they did prove successful within the Poetry Slam.
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