BONNERS FERRY — The Pearl Theater brought a competitive poetry reading to Bonners Ferry for April’s National Poetry Month, called a poetry slam.
A poetry slam is a competition where each contestant has poems prepared that meet certain guidelines. For example, this competition asserted that the competitors have a poem presentation of three minutes or less, no costumes or props, and no musical accompaniment.
Each presentation was displayed with unique poems and gusto. One poet broke into a capella song, while others read their poems with inflection on the key parts.
“People have been performing poetry as long as there’s been language. Construction worker and poet, Marc Smith, wanted to breathe new life into poetry, so he partnered with the Green Mill, a Chicago club and former haunt of Al Capone,” stated their press release. “He drew on baseball and bridge terminology to create an event that emphasized performance and appealed to the audience.”
The judges scored each poem, half on content and half on performance. The audience was encouraged to react vocally and openly to all aspects of the slam — both positively and negatively, with cheers or boos.
When the idea of a poetry slam was first brought up, the Pearl’s Jessica Tingley’s reaction was, “I love the idea of a poetry slam! That would be amazing.”
Initially, there were going to be three categories; middle school, high school and adult. Since there were no contestants in the middle school range, that class was out. There was one contestant from the high school, and the rest were in the adult category.
At the end of the competition, the winners were awarded with cash prizes for their categories. The high school category winner and the adult category winner faced off against one another for the final cash prize.
The winner was Jim Bottoms with a final score of 25.5, followed by Shawna Schiver and Andrea Daniel with the tie scores of 24.8.
According to director of the poetry slam, Tim Woods, the Boundary County Library Director, Craig Anderson, is excited that a poetry slam has come back to Bonners Ferry. The library also has a display featuring poetry books saluting National Poetry Month and the Pearl Poetry Slam.
The Pearl Theater and its patrons wish to continue the Poetry Slam idea and utilize it in the future to bring poets and those who enjoy poetry to future gatherings.