Poetry slam lets local poets express themselves

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Most of Janel Moore's poems are about very personal issues.

She was the winner of the last poetry slam at Off the Beaten Path Bookstore. "It was the poems that were more personal that I was most hesitant to read," Moore said. "Those are the ones that the audience liked."

The winner of Thursday's Mud Season Poetry Slam will be determined by a panel of judges, but the audience is encouraged to influence those judges, said Debbie Hoing, special events promoter for Off the Beaten Path.

She will hand out noisemakers, bells and clappers to help audience members express their approval -- or disapproval --f poems.

"You really are supposed to act the part and wear costumes," Hoing said. "It is as much about the acting as it is about the actual content of the poems."

Participants should be prepared to share three poems that are three minutes or shorter.

"There's quite a lot of diversity," said Nicolette Powell, who has organized the past five poetry slams. "There's a group of cowboy poets that used to come. Other poems are based on love, life, drama, and some people do impromptu poetry."

Last year, Moore dressed up as an older man, stuffed a pillow into her overalls, tucked her hair into her hat and read her poetry in a Southern accent.

"People really do take it to the hilt," Hoing said. "They come with props and in character, and they really get into it."

Gift certificates to the bookstore will be awarded to the first-, second- and third-place finishers, and door prizes will be given to select audience members. All of the poetry will be original works.

"It's neat to meet new writers and see their styles and the way that they put themselves out there," Moore said.

Participants should sign up at the door and be prepared for two rounds. The top three poets will do a slam-off.

"You get to go up there and show them what you got," Moore said. "Nobody's going to boo you. You might be surprised by how the audience reacts to you."

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