Chanel Gomaa, winner of slam competion.


MACDeLand Slam selects WOWPS Dallas Representative

Chanel Gomaa is the winner of Kevin Campbell’s MACDeland Slam competition and will represent Volusia County and CHI at the national Women of the World Poetry Slam to be held in Dallas, March 14-17. Seven women competed for the honor at The Abbey in DeLand. CHI continues to co-sponsor with Main Street Art and Culture of DeLand. Kevin is slam master and coordinator for CHI.  


Kevin is slam master and coordinator for CHI.  




(l to r) Alexa MacKnight, Leigh Fields, Chanel Gomaa, Kevin Campbell, Elizabeth Raatma, Pamela Belitch, Bridget Reagan, Aleathia Dupree.





Made possible in part by a grant from the Cultural Council of Volusia County.


For more information about slams, contact Kevin Campbell,



ORIGINAL POEMS ONLY. You must read your own work. Slam poems have a 3-Minute limit for each poem. Point deductions if you go over the time. No props. You need not memorize but the slam will be judged in part on performance skills.

Some lines may be sung but this is not a song competition. Submit a typed copy of the poem with your contact information included to be entered into the competition for the literary poetry prize. You must be present to submit your written copy.

Bring your fans to cheer you on! The audience is encouraged to cheer, call out, react as the moment moves them–but no heckling or harassment. Just a good time and fair competition.


(From David B. Axelrod, resident poetry fogey)

And now for a moment of true confessions! Between you and me, I’ve never liked the idea that poets “slam” each other. It sounds too violent. Even competitions aren’t particularly my thing. But there is a large sector of the poetry world that has adopted an aggressive “performance” style of poetry. The best of the poets in this category not only memorize their poems but perform them with a fair amount of inflection and gesticulation, even adding vocal sound effects.

That raises the question of which comes first–what wins the prize–in poetry slams. Is it the art of poetry or the skill of acting out the poem? The “slam” part refers to very animated competition. It could have been called poetry “jousting” but instead poets slam into each other verbally to see who is the best performer. That’s how I see it. I think it is a contest to see who performs better, not necessarily who writes the best (literary) poetry.

It is also true that some very good poets are also very dynamic performers. That is the best of both worlds. But more often when I run or witness slams, the winners are the ones who can rapidly and loudly recite a lot of words that culminate every stanza with something like a punch line. The momentum carries the act forward to a dramatic conclusion. Often, however, I’m left asking, “What was that all about.” I’m entertained greatly but I don’t understand the poems well.

As for who compete, it seems more a young person’s game. But I’ve seen older poets (or antiques like me) who do stand up and deliver convincingly. I’ve seen poets read–not recite by memory–and win. The rules are generally that: 1. The work must be entirely your own. 2. You can read from a page or even a ipad or cell phone. 3. You can’t use props. 4. Very strictly, you can’t exceed 3 minutes in performance, which is timed from the first word  you speak.

 More recently, I’ve made a study of slam. I wrote a paper on Gerard Manley Hopkins, “Hip Hopkins,” that makes the case that even back in the 19th Century, a Jesuit priest was writing like a slam poet. (Here’s a link to the paper and a truly fine Irish poetry event:

I’m keeping an open mind–even as talented slam poets smack me about the ears with truly exciting slam poems. Certainly, attending a slam is much more fun than the usual open mics I go to–and even more to talk about that a long series of “academic readings” I heard at a recent conference.

And that’s the story. My opinion is still out. Here I am running these things and promoting slams but I wonder if these venues foster good writing or are just for the fun. If you want to give it a try, practice a lively delivery and enter. Either way, come witness the contest. You don’t need body armor or a helmet!

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