Slam Poetry is poetry performed competitively, and ranked on a numeric scale by judges.
Slam Poetry in St. Louis
Early Days: Venice Cafe and Wabash Triangle Cafe
The St. Louis Poetry Slam was started in 1989 when Marc Smith transplanted it from Chicago to the Venice Cafe. It remained there for 2+ years and moved to the Wabash Triangle Cafe, once it had outgrown the venues limitations.
The Wabash Triangle Cafe was located on Delmar Blvd, just East of Skinker Blvd. The Slam was hosted originally at both cafes by Bob Putnam, who later opened his own bar, the Way Out Club, and currently hosts a radio show on KDHX. Rob Templeton replaced Putnam as host, and was the host until the Wabash Triangle Cafe burned down on the morning of Friday, March 18th, 1994. The Pageant and Halo Bar is now located on the same lot where the Wabash Triangle Cafe stood.
The Roof is on Fire - A documentary about the Wabash Triangle Cafe, its destruction, and the poets who performed there, was released on July 18, 2010.
St. Louis poets who performed at the Wabash Poetry Slam included:
- Hari "Sky" Campbell Warrior Poet
- Carla Harris
- Kevin 'Tong' McCameron
- Logan Masterson
- John Newmark (aka "Gavroche" or "Sick Puppy")
- David Noble-Dandridge
- Michael O'Brian
- Francis Raven (Performing under the name "Raven")
- Daphna Rodin
- Margeau Steinau
- Paul Stewart (aka "One Man Riot")
- Rob Templeton
- Craig Downs, performer & painter
- James Gunn film-maker & writer
- Linda Lawson-Mixon
- Dane Clark
- Michael Draga, photographer
- Chris "crisa" Branch
- Juanita Morales
- Tina Farmer, actress & writer
- Maria Guadalupe Massey (a.k.a. chingasDaughter & witch of words)
The owner of the Wabash Triangle Cafe was a free-spirited thinker & entrepreneur named Calvin Case; and some of the wonderful people who worked there included: flamenco dancer Beth Heaney, writer & radio talk show host Brett Underwood, a.k.a. Zed Naught.
Trailer for the documentary, The Roof is on Fire (Warning: Some language in trailer is NSFW) <youtube v="WRxXPOnXUwM" />
Current: Focal Point
St. Louis hosted the annual National Poetry Slam competition in August of 2004.
Some of the names in the Slam Poetry community have remained the same, with Campbell, McCameron, O'Brian, and Stewart still active. They have been joined by Chavisa Woods, Mama Blue (aka Zaire Imani), and others.