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Austin Poetry Slammers Compete to Make National Team


Austin’s best slam poets are taking the stage tonight at the Stateside Theatre for the Final Slam Off of 2013.

Austin’s ten best poets will compete to make the 2013 Austin Slam Team. The five-member team will represent Austin at the National Poetry Slam in Boston.

For those not familiar with slam poetry, here is what you need to know: Five randomly selected audience members judge poetry on a scale from 0.0 to 10.0. Poets perform an original three minute piece of their own with only their body and a microphone. The highest scoring poets face off to win cash prizes.

But wait – you can win at poetry?

“Well originally, they made poetry competitive as sort of a gimmick to get the audience engaged,” says Danny Strack, Slammaster and Executive Director of Austin Poetry, “It has worked to do that, but in my opinion and in the opinion of a lot of other people, it has also worked to improve the quality of performance oriented poetry.”

Austin Slammaster Emeritus and former Poetry Slam, Inc. President Mike Henry says, “poetry slam is about the idea that everybody has a valid opinion about art and you don’t need some degree or credential to prove it.”

When everybody can perform, everybody can judge. Danny Strack says that by scoring poetry, they are just improving the quality of the overall art.

“In poetry right now, there’s sort of a split between performance-oriented poetry and literary poetry and people on both sides of the aisle really don’t respect each other as much as I think they should.”

Slam poetry separates itself as an art form through the real-time judgment between poet and audience.

Austin, a city with longstanding connections to the slam poetry world (it has competed in the National Poetry Slam since 1995 and hosted the event in 1998, 2006 and 2007), has never won a National Poetry Slam despite placing in the top four five times.

The ten Austin poetry slammers, chosen after performing over at the weekly Austin Poetry Slam, will compete in the Final Slam Off of 2013 to determine the Austin National Poetry Slam team. The National Poetry Slam is the 13th through the 17th of August in Boston, Mass. The Austin team will be rehearsing every week from now until August to perfect their routines for the national competition.

You can see Austin Poetry Slammers compete to represent Austin at the 2013 National Poetry Slam tonight at the Stateside Theatre. 

For more information about Austin Slam Poetry, you can visit

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