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A START AT A MANIFESTO by Marc Smith

A few years back when I was frustrated by the conflicting views about what the slam was, is, and should be, I started to formulate a manifesto (for lack of a better word) to put forth the philosophies about the slam that I felt were important to its growth. Many of these are well known to us now.They're in our blood. "Poetry is not to glorify the poet; it's to celebrate the community." "The show is more important than the individual poet." "The points are not the point. The point is poetry."

Here's what I started with back then. I'm not saying we have too issue a manifesto, or that there should be a manifesto. My purpose here is to propose that we document the principles and philosophies that have become the unspoken force behind the amazing success of our collective and slam poetry itself.

Slam poetry is performance poetry. It recognizes that the Art of performance is as important an art as the art of forming words into poems on the printed page.

No audience should be thought of as obligated to listen to the poet. It is the poet's obligation to communicate effectively, artfully, and honestly so as to compel the audience to listen.

The slam does not exist to glorify the poet but rather to celebrate the community of which the poet is only a small part.

The slam should be open to all peoples and all forms of poetry.

With respect to its own affairs, each slam should be free from attachment to any outside organizations and responsible to no other authority than its own community of poets and audience. However, when its plans and projects affect the welfare of other slams, those neighboring slams ought to be consulted. No group, no individual should ever take any action that might greatly affect the Slam family as a whole without conferring with the Slam Family, the Slammasters Council, and/or the Executive Council first.

No group, individual, or outside organization should be allowed to exploit the Slam Family. We must all remember that we are each tied in some way to someone else's efforts. Our individual achievements are only extensions of some previous accomplishment. Success for one must spread to success for all.

The National Slam began as a gift from one city to another. It should remain a gift passed on freely to all newcomers. No individual, group, or organization should be allowed to seize it as its own.

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