Tuesday, March 19, 2002 Volume 67, Issue 111



Slam away at the Southmore House

By Cara Sarelli
Daily Cougar Staff

It's time to pack up those words of passion, rage and romance and
bring them to town. Yes, it's time for the Southmore House Poetry

Any beatniks interested in the Houston spoken-word scene must
check out the Southmore House. Catering to amateurs and
promoting the arts, the Southmore House is <I>the<P> "place
where art happens."

So what is a slam? The slam at Southmore, held on the third
Tuesday of every month, is a spoken-word competition in which
the performers, audience and judges may interact. For example, if
the audience members don't approve of a judge's score for a
performer, they might "boo" the judge, and the judge in return
may scream obscenities at them. Of course, it's all in good fun. To
spice it up, the judges usually have nicknames. At one slam the
five judges were all named after characters from the old TV show
<I>The Facts of Life<P>.

The Southmore House slam -- hosted by Doug Shields, a UH
alumnus -- is fairly simple. In the first round, each poet reads one
original piece of his or her own writing in a performance that must
be kept under three minutes. After each piece, the five volunteer
judges give a score from one to 10; the highest and lowest scores
are dropped. In round two, the same procedure is followed.

At the end of round two, there is a brief intermission. During this
time, the audience and performers get a chance to mingle while
the scores for the performers are added up and the top
participants (the number of which depends on how many there
are) go on to round three.

The third and final round determines the first-, second- and
third-place winners. The first place winner gets the prize pot, which
consists of every five-dollar entry fee paid by each contestant. The
winners of second and third also win prizes, but their prizes change
each month. At a recent slam, Southmore gave certificates to
Oscar's Dreamery to slam winners.

Southmore is full of friendly faces and always welcomes
newcomers. As it recently celebrated the one-year anniversary of
its first slam, it has history and showcases a wide range of talent.

Tonight at the slam, the Southmore House will feature Thom the
World Poet. Author of 80 chapbooks and seven compact discs,
Thom is a co-founder of the Austin International Poetry Festival
and an organizer of Houston International Poetry Festival.

It will be a full house, so arrive early to get a comfortable seat.
Sign up is at 8:30 p.m. for poets who wish to share their
inspirational words and those who would like to judge. The slam
will begin at 9 p.m.

The Southmore House is located at 4401 Wheeler St. at La Branch
Street (just several blocks from the UH campus). Be there.

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