Payne County Youth Services will host the first PCYS Poetry Slam in the Park on Saturday, Oct. 17 from 4-5 p.m. at Couch Park in Stillwater.

Slam is a forum for sharing poetry that allows participants the excitement of friendly competition while sharing their art and ideas with a live audience.

Slam poetry is a forum for spoken-word poetry made popular by Marc Kelly Smith in 1980s Chicago that derives it’s often rhythmic, musical style from the Beat poets of the 1940s and ‘50s.

Performers often use literary tools like rhyme schemes, assonance, and alliteration in combination with pacing (speeding up and slowing down) and dynamics (volume changes) to make their words flow, not unlike the lyrics of a song.

There is no specific form, however, that a slam poem must take; the most important guidelines for a slam poem are 1) to provoke an emotional response from a live audience (cheers, laughter, gasps, or tears) and 2) that the presentation be entertaining and engaging to the audience.

While no topic is off limits to slam poetry, many poets use this unique forum to address heavier subjects, like religion, race, sexuality, war, and class.

Janet Fultz, Executive Director of PCYS said, “We are excited to offer this forum where our youth can express their thoughts in a fun and creative way. We believe that self-expression is always important, and that during this time of uncertainty, isolation, and racial tension, it is critical that adults and systems help give voice to our kids. We hope to continue the Poetry Slam on a regular basis and to expand this event to other communities we serve. We invite the community to encourage youth participation as well as join us to hear their voices and enjoy their art.”

PCYS will present a traditional format for the slam in which performances are limited to three minutes each, performers present only their original work, and five random audience members are selected to score each presentation.

The winner of the PCYS Poetry Slam in the Park will have the honor and privilege to MC the next slam.

To reserve a spot on stage, email Kim Shenold at or call 405-377-3380. Walk-ups are welcome as time permits. Details and official rules can be found at or by calling the office.

This event will follow all local and CDC guidelines and will be live-streaming on the PCYS Facebook page.

– Submitted

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