EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR LETTER TO THE MEMBERSHIP
2015 was a year of transformation at Poetry Slam, Inc. (PSi). From a new logo, the launch of a new website, and a close focus on bringing the best to our membership body and serving as many people as possible with our programs, we have seen significant changes. Our greatest revenue year yet, it looks like the changes are serving us well.
In order to enhance services to individual and organizational members, we worked to ensure that the three major performance events meet or exceed member expectations. We also worked with Button Poetry to expand opportunities for individual members to gain online audience exposure. We also facilitated increased communication among leaders/organizers of certified venues to build a shared learning base using social media. Lastly, we provided clear and accessible channels for communication between PSi and member individuals and organizations through e-mail, phone, an enhanced website, and increased social media usage.
In 2015, PSi had over 600 members, and over 100 certified poetry slams throughout the United States and Canada. Today, our membership has increased to over 800 people, with 113 certified slams. With an increased focus on social media, our Twitter followers increased from 700 in 2014 to 2,200 today. Our Facebook fans went from just over 5,000 in late 2014 to over 11,000 today. Our YouTube channel, launched in late 2014, has over 36,000 subscribers, which is not only a new source of revenue for PSi, but it has allowed us to expand the audiences for our events and for our poet members.
To increase long-term organizational sustainability, we increased individual engagement in supporting PSi’s continued growth. In addition, we built a stronger staff structure and capacity as well as systems to support current programs and anticipated growth by hiring new Event Coordinators and deepening our relationships with host cities to meet the increasing demand for programming. Further, we increased the visibility and awareness of Poetry Slam, Inc. as the primary resource for all things related to slam poetry.
As a further endeavor to increase sustainability, the Slammasters voted to anchor the National Poetry Slam (NPS) in four anchor cities, rotating every five years – the fifth year will remain open to cities that are interested in bringing NPS to their city without the long-term commitment required of the anchor cities. Through a competitive bid process, the Slammasters chose Atlanta (2016), Denver (2017), Chicago (2018), and Oakland (2019) as the anchor cities for NPS.
As we move through 2016 and planning for 2017, we continue to evaluate our strengths and weaknesses and strive to offer the best possible programming for our members and audiences. Our tournaments are the most well-recognized around the world, and our member poets continue to make PSi the best place for this incredible art form to thrive.
Thank you for your support of PSi, for making this organization the face and voice of slam poetry. We look forward to making more progress in 2016.
Suzi Q. Smith
Poetry Slam, Inc.
Inkera Oshun, President
Christopher Michael, Vice President
Karen Garrabrant, Secretary
Ashlee Haze, Treasurer
Don McIver, Trustee
Jesse Parent, Trustee
John Quiñonez, Trustee
Suzi Q. Smith, Executive Director
Emily Rose, Venue & Membership Administrator
Geoffrey Jarok, CPA, Financial Manager
Maureen Benson, National Poetry Slam Event Coordinator
Mahogany L. Browne, Women of the World Poetry Slam Event Coordinator
Inkera Oshun, Individual World Poetry Slam Event Coordinator
Johnny Osi, Website Administrator
The mission of Poetry Slam Incorporated (PSi) is to promote the performance and creation of poetry while cultivating literary activities and spoken word events in order to build audience participation, stimulate creativity, awaken minds, foster education, inspire mentoring, encourage artistic statement and engage communities worldwide in the revelry of language.
Founded in 1997, Poetry Slam, Inc. (PSi) is the official 501(c)(3) member-based, non-profit organization charged with overseeing the international coalition of poetry slams, including operating the National Poetry Slam, the Individual World Poetry Slam, and the Women of the World Poetry Slam.
Though slams are maintained in a growing number of cities by local organizers, the vast majority of slams follow the rules established by the governing body, and are certified by the governing body as slams that adhere to the vision founded by slam’s founders. Poets from local communities frequently embark on poetry tours in other slam cities, relying on each other to set up the venues and housing necessary for such tours. Our local organizers are required to uphold our Equal Opportunity policy to receive and maintain their certification. Because of slam’s exponential growth as an art form, PSi has emerged not only as an administrative body to maintain the rules governing slam, but also as an organization that seeks to grow slam’s audience and protect slam’s interests.
The Executive Council, headed by a seven-member group comprised of poets and slam organizers, and voted on by representatives of local slams, maintains a vigilant watch of poetry slam series worldwide, ensuring that slam maintains itself as an art form open to all competitors. Through the certification process and its annual organizational meetings, PSi has created the backbone for a community of poets who are in frequent communication with one another, in order to pool ideas and share creative resources to insure the future growth and recognition of slam. Poets from the community frequently embark on poetry tours in other slam cities, relying on each other to set up the venues and housing necessary for such tours
While PSi’s main focus in recent years has been the maintenance and growth of its tournaments, the organization is embarking on a series of programs and actions that seek to increase the public awareness of slams. These projects include the maintenance of an official website, the formation of regional competitions, and partnership with academic institutions to provide performing and teaching poets to visit classrooms.
Poetry Slam, Inc. (PSi) exists to celebrate the power of the voice. PSi is an arts organization that works to provide a platform for voices to be heard beyond social, cultural, political, and economic barriers. One of the objectives of Poetry Slam, Inc., is the achievement of building a healthy community that welcomes and embraces the voices of people from all races, colors, genders, sexual orientations, lifestyles, classes, national origins, religions, ethnicities, ages, and abilities. Further, PSi strives to promote networking amongst poets and poetry slam organizers locally, nationally, and Internationally.
PSi teaches and is committed to the principle that dignity, self-esteem, and respect are inalienable rights of every individual. Each member shares the responsibility of preserving the rights of all members and guests in the poetry slam community. PSi charges its members to live up to the expectations of our community and to exemplify the ideals of leadership, friendship, and justice when engaging with others in the poetry slam community, and to hold one another accountable to these expectations.
We exist to give voice to every poem, every passion, and every pressing issue that urgently needs a place for expression, and we endeavor to so build ourselves that we will ever be a credit to PSi and to the art form that is slam poetry. We challenge our members to use their art to inspire courage, hope, creativity and self-empowerment within their communities. We encourage spirited and free speech, both from the performing poets and from the audiences. We charge all of our members with the responsibility to respect other individual’s rights, just as we wish our own to be respected.
EQUAL OPPORTUNITY STATEMENT
As the SlamMaster of an event sanctioned and registered/certified with Poetry Slam, Inc., the SlamMaster and/or his or her assigns agree:
- To provide a poetry event which is open to all people regardless of race, color, gender, sexual orientation, lifestyle, class, national origin, religion, ethnicity, age, or disability;
- That Poetry Slam, Inc. will permit a registered venue to serve a specific segment of the population (e.g. an all women Poetry Slam) provided that the organizers demonstrate a need for such an event within that community to PSI, and provided that the municipality or geographical area in question is already represented by a regular Poetry Slam series open to all participants. Exceptions are also made for venues where local laws prohibit minors, or physical characteristics of the building cannot accommodate everyone. Demonstrable effort should be made to provide an opportunity for any legally protected group to participate, where no other local options to participate in a Poetry Slam exist. It is understood that Poetry Slam events which are open to all are given preference in selection for the National Poetry Slam;
- That the SlamMaster must provide team members with a National Poetry Slam rulebook before participating in any sanctioned National Poetry Slam event, and encourage team members to read and understand the rules and guidelines;
- To create a fair and equitable Poetry Slam while providing leadership which encourages, illuminates and supports established standards of good-sportsmanship;
- To provide, to the best of his or her ability, a professional working environment for all poets and audience members;
- To provide an atmosphere of mutual support and encouragement in which poets are invited to develop, network and grow;
- To provide an atmosphere in which freedom of speech, self-determination, and pursuit of creative excellence is an inalienable right. It is understood that audience members not in competition or affiliated with the venues organization are unregulated;
- To endeavor to create an environment in which all poets in good standing with PSI are allowed to pursue their craft peacefully and without censure;
- To do his or her best to be a good host by providing necessary local information relevant to his or her guest poets travel, including but not limited to information about local hotels, restaurants and other points of interest;
- To agree to comply with local, state and federal laws pertaining to individual civil rights and sexual harassment and to do his or her best to provide a safe environment for all participants. When artistic and creative expression on stage during a performance conflicts with legal statutes regarding physical or sexual harassment, it is understood that the poet may be creatively representing a voice or point of view other than his or her own and is not necessarily espousing the point of view of the poem and the poets rights to creative expression shall remain in effect.
PSI CERTIFIED SLAMS
PSi currently has 113 certified slams in North America, with new venues certifying every year.
|Montevallo Poetry Slam (Bama Slam)-Montevallo-AL
Fayetteville Word Wars-Fayetteville-AR
Rocktown Slam-Little Rock-AR
Sedona Poetry Slam-Sedona-AZ
Vancouver Poetry Slam-Vancouver-BC
Berkeley Poetry Slam-Berkeley-CA
Accident Lab (aka: Humboldt Poetry Slam)-Eureka-CA
Da Poetry Lounge-Los Angeles-CA
Oakland Poetry Slam-Oakland-CA
Sit N Spin (aka: Sac Unified)-Sacramento-CA
San Diego PoetrySLAM-San Diego-CA
San Diego PoetrySLAM (prev: Elevated!)-San Diego-CA
Alchemy Slam-San Francisco-CA
Swag Slam-San Francisco-CA
San Jose Poetry Slam-San Jose-CA
The Loud Mouth Poetry Jam-Visalia-CA
BAM Toronto Youth Slam-Toronto-Canada
Hear, Here! Poetry Slam-Colorado Springs-CO
POETZ REALM (prev: Verbal Slap)-Bridgeport-CT
Beltway Poetry Slam-Washington-DC
MACDeLand Slam (aka: MainStreet Art & Culture Slam)-DeLand-FL
The S.A.F.E.! Words! Poetry! Slam!-Orlando-FL
WeSpoke Slam (prev: Sacred Sounds)-Tampa-FL
The Speak Tank-Tampa Bay-FL
Boise Poetry Slam-Slam of Steel-Boise-ID
Uptown Poetry Slam presented by Chicago Slam Works (aka The Green Mill)-Chicago-IL
Rockford Certified Slam-Rockford-IL
Eclectic Truth-Baton Rouge-LA
Slam New Orleans-New Orleans-LA
|The House Slam-Boston-MA
Boston Poetry Slam-Cambridge-MA
Lizard Lounge Poetry Slam-Cambridge-MA
Mill City Slam-Lowell-MA
7HillsSlam, Worcester (prev:Poets’ Asylum)-Worcester-MA
Speak Out: Slammageddon with 3RD EYE Activation-Baltimore-MD
Ann Arbor Poetry Slam-Ann Arbor-MI
Freshwater Wordsmiths (formerly Neo Minds)-Detroit-MI
Urban Echo Poetry Slam-Detroit-MI
mentally Distilled poetry slam-Grand Rapids-MI
Soap Boxing Poetry Slam-St. Paul-MN
Kansas City Poetry Slam (prev: PoUnd Slam)-Kansas City-MO
UrbSLAM (Saturday Night Slam at UrbArts)-Saint Louis-MO
MO Poetry, Slam Springfield-Springfield-MO
Poetry Slam Asheville-Asheville-NC
Respect Da Mic-Charlotte-NC
Jambalaya Soul Slam/Bull City-Durham-NC
OM Center Poetry Slam-Omaha-NE
Slam Free or Die-Manchester-NH
Jersey City Slam-Jersey City-NJ
Loser Slam-Red Bank-NJ
Jersey Shore Poetry Slam-Toms River-NJ
Battle Born Slam-Las Vegas-NV
Spoken Views Collective: One Night Slam-Reno-NV
Nitty Gritty Slam-Albany-NY
Brooklyn Poetry Slam-Brooklyn-NY
Pure Ink Poetry-Buffalo-NY
Bowery Poetry Slam-New York-NY
Union Square Slam-New York-NY
Nuyorican Poet’s Café-New York City-NY
Roc Bottom Slam Poetry-Rochester-NY
The Advanced Slam-Staten Island-NY
Suffern Poetry (aka: Rock Slam)-Suffern-NY
|White Plains Library Slam-White Plains-NY
Queen City Poetry Slam-Cincinnati-OH
Lake Effect Poetry Slam-Cleveland-OH
Red Dirt Poetry Slam-Oklahoma City-OK
Toronto Poetry Slam-Toronto-ON
The Burlington Slam Project-Burlington-ON, Canada
Portland Poetry Slam-Portland-OR
The Pigeon Presents: The Philadelphia Poetry Slam-Philadelphia-PA
Steel City Slam-Pittsburgh-PA
Providence Poetry Slam-Providence-RI
Say What Upstate Poetry Slam Sponsored by Wits End Poetry-Greenville-SC
Natty Roots and Rhyme-Arlington-TX
Unlimited Poetry Slam-Arlington-TX
Austin Neo Soul-Austin-TX
Austin Poetry Slam-Austin-TX
Ballabajoomba Poetry Slam-Corpus Christi-TX
Dallas Poetry Slam-Dallas-TX
Fort Worth Poetry Slams (prev:Dallas Fort Worth)-Dallas-TX
FrontEra Poetry Slam-El Paso-TX
Houston Poetry Slam-Houston-TX
Write About Now-Houston-TX
Killeen Poetry Slam-Killeen-TX
Laredo Border Slam-Laredo-TX
Sugar Slam-Salt Lake-UT
Salt City Slam-Salt Lake City-UT
Olympia People’s Mic-Olympia-WA
Rain City Slam-Seattle-WA
Seattle Poetry Slam-Seattle-WA
Spokane Poetry Slam-Spokane-WA
Urban Spoken Word (prev: Madison Poetry Slam)-Madison-WI
Women of the World Poetry Slam
The 2015 Women of the World Poetry Slam was held in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Host City Chair Jasmine Cuffee and the entire Host City team gave an amazing event to the community, from the unforgettable opening ceremonies to a sold-out finals at the Historic KiMo Theater in Downtown Albuquerque. In addition to providing excellent programming throughout, the event was a financial success, with the strongest revenue of any WOWps to date. With 72 competitors and hundreds of local supporters and volunteers, there were four days of incredible events. Our champion is Janae Johnson, an incredible poet and slam organizer representing House Slam in Boston, MA.
National Poetry Slam
The 2015 National Poetry Slam was held once again in Oakland, California. Our largest event, the National Poetry Slam is the annual poetry slam championship tournament, wherein four- to five-person teams from all over North America and Europe gather to compete against each other for the national team title. In 2015, Christine De La Rosa and Maureen Benson led an incredible host city team to an incredible event in downtown Oakland for the second year in a row. Not only was the event highly regarded by our community of poets, but it was well attended by the Bay Area poetry slam fans as well, also coming in as the strongest revenue-producing NPS to date. We had 72 teams from all over the United States and Canada participate in five days of poetry, all culminating in the Finals where Denver Mercury Slam, Berkeley Slam, Hawai’i Slam, and House Slam all competed for the championship title. House Slam won the National Poetry Slam, sending their very first team! Now one of our anchor cities, we look forward to returning to Oakland in 2019!
Individual World Poetry Slam
The Individual World Poetry Slam (iWPS) was held in Washington, D.C., and we expanded the field of competition to accommodate 96 poets, after receiving the largest number of registrants we have ever had for the event. Shelly Bell, Angelique Palmer, Lauren Bullock, and Pages Matam led an incredible host city team of organizers through a four-day poetry festival, where poets from all over the United States, Canada, and even one competitor from South Africa competed together to crown the Individual World Poetry Slam champion. Finals was held at the historic Sixth & I Synagogue, and our champion is Emi Mahmoud, who was competing for the first time!
Major Contributors 2015
McCune Foundation Discretionary Funds: Fiscal Sponsor – Art of Revolution
City Council Sponsorship – Issac Benton, District 2
Albuquerque Public Arts
Word Craft Circle of Natvie Writers and Storytellers
Sponsorship: Lee Francis
Southwest Organizing Project
City of Oakland
In-Kind Contributors 2015
Seven City Arts Society
Impact HUB Oakland
The New Parkway Theater
Busboys & Poets