Slam Nation: The Sport of Spoken Word [2 Discs]

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Synopsis

The phenomenon of the poetry slam originated in Chicago in the 1980s, where young writers would perform their verses in competitive form at bars and coffeehouses before a live audience. Poets would be given three minutes to perform a piece they wrote themselves, and a panel of judges (chosen at random from the audience) would rate the poets and their delivery on a scale of one to ten. As spoken word performance gained a new popularity in the '90s, the poetry slam began to spread nationwide, and soon four-member slam teams from different cities were competing against each other around the U.S. Slam Nation: The Sport of the Spoken Word is a documentary shot at the 1996 National Poetry Slam in Portland, Oregon, in which groups of young performers from across the country compete with their streetwise, aggressively-performed verses in front of an enthusiastic audience. Director Paul Devlin, who has also directed sports programming for @ESPN, focuses on the competitive nature of the performances onstage, and their more contemplative and philosophical sides offstage. One of the featured performers, Saul Williams, also starred in a dramatic feature about the poetry slam movement, Slam. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi