on the advent of bigger prize monies in local poetry slams
interviews by Kurt Heintz posted 15 October 2004
Recently, some local poetry slams have taken a turn toward big money. This is a new effect in the slam movement, which has typically been beset with impoverished poets offering impoverished prizes to fellow impoverished poets. Now, large cash can be had in some cities on special occasions, if you have the right stuff on mic.
What does the money signify? How do bigger stakes change the condition of slam poetry? Or does it change slam at all? e-poets.net asked two people who have been closely involved with this phenomenon.
Samaiya Ewing is a Chicago writer, performance poet, and has competed twice in a big-money slam prize. She is also a contributor to the Book of Voices.
In the process of talking about the consequences of larger prizes, both reveal some appreciations of poetry from practical and aesthetic points as well. We don't promise agreement between them, but the differences and similarities between their appreciations of well-moneyed slams may surprise you.