It's not something you expect from poets -- sweating and writhing on stage while they scream into the microphone.
Nearby, there is a person with a stopwatch, and all around, people are taking score.
Poetry as sport may seem like an oxymoron, but it's one of the most entertaining things to happen to the genre since Shel Silverstein took up a pen.
Poetry Slams happen across the country with small regional competitions leading to national ones. But there hasn't been a Poetry Slam in Steamboat Springs for more than five years.
Elements manager Nic--olette Powell hopes to revive the tradition with a Poetry Slam event Thursday at Off the Beaten Path Bookstore.
All poetry read at the poetry slam must be original work written by the person reading. Costumes and props are allowed, and all performances must be three minutes or less.
Audience members will be given ballots to judge each poet. If all goes as planned, the Slam will have three rounds. The winner will receive a gift certificate to Off the Beaten Path.
Sign-up begins at 7 p.m. with a maximum of 15 poets allowed to compete.
"The last time there was a Poetry Slam in Steamboat, a lot of cowboy poets showed up," Powell said. "I'd like to see that again -- a big creative mix and a good age range."
Powell said she is a little uncomfortable turning poetry into a competition, but "if it's fun, I want to do it."
The Poetry Slam is just one event held at Off the Beaten Path in celebration of April as National Poetry Month. The store will host a Kid's Poetry Night on Tuesday that will be nowhere near as competitive as the Slam night. At 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, the bookstore staff will read children's poetry from published authors. At 6 p.m., children in elementary school through middle school will be invited to read their poems.
-- To reach Autumn Phillips call 871-4210
or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org