What does the phrase "erotica slam" mean to you? No worries about offending folks with your word choice; those throwing the event can probably come up with something even filthier.
Now entering its 18th year, the Valentine's Day slam continues to evolve. This year it's morphing into a three-day tournament of dirty poetry, ribald audiences, and a few sweetheart moments. It began as a one-day event, grew to two days to accommodate crowds, and is now expanding again. Hosted by Word Sprout and Button Poetry, Thursday and Friday will showcase competitive poets while Saturday will pit the top four from previous nights against one another. Each day will be an entirely new event. No poems will be repeated, and there will be new judges each night.
Dressing Room spoke with Allison Broeren, director of Word Sprout and slam master of SlamMN!, about what attendees can expect this year.[jump]
How many times have you been involved in planning and/or participating?
I've been planning the Erotica Slams since 2006 and have been hosting and reading dirty haikus since.
Are you performing or just hosting this go-round?
I'm not competing, but will be running around making sure everything goes well. The amazing and talented National Slam Champion and Write Bloody author Sierra deMulder is hosting Thursday night and I'm hosting Friday and Saturday.
What are the origins behind the Erotica Slam?
The Erotica Slam was already an institution when I took over running the slams. Obviously, poetry has a natural tie-in with Valentine's Day, and it's been growing in popularity each year. Three years ago, we added a second night since we were turning down so many reservations. This year, we decided to add a third, and make a full tournament out of it. So there is a long history, yet this is something new and different. So you can say you were then when it all started.
Why is it so popular?
Minnesotans have a secret naughty side! Any of our erotic events tend to be some of the most popular events each year -- even the ones not on Valentine's Day.
I think the Erotica Tournament lets people get out of the house and let loose during the darkest stretch of the winter and just go somewhere for a raucous good time. It's great for couples, but also a lot of fun to come to with friends for a good night out. It's also a really open and fun environment.
Also, the audience gets to play a part in the event: they are the judges that determine the winners, they can boo and cheer for the scores, they can share their own dirty haikus, and write anonymous sexy secrets that will be read during the night. Audiences at the slam tend to be a bit rowdier than usual Midwest audiences, so it's a lot of fun.
What was a highlight from last year's event?
Eep! My mom reading dirty haikus? I sort of blacked out in horror, but the audience loved it. All the poems. There were sweet love ballads, erotic pet poems, and downright dirty ditties -- a little something for everybody.
As the event expands, do you see a new crowd each night, or a lot of return guests?
Both! There are die-hard fans out there (you know who you are) that will be in the front each night. I suspect some people will come to the preliminary bouts on Thursday and Friday nights and want to come see who wins the $500 grand prize on Saturday. There won't be any poems repeated throughout the tournament, so each night anything and everything can happen.
What should first timers expect?
A naughty good time. This isn't sophisticated appreciation of poetry; this is cheering and booing and shouting out in hotness. There are a large variety of poets with various styles showing up to compete for $500, so they will be bringing their A-game. There will be burlesque dancers and audience members sharing some of their dirtiest secrets. It's a high energy ball of poetic fun. Each night is totally different, so feel free to come to all three.
Have any of the out-of-town performers been to the Erotica Slam before? Does it have a reputation outside of town?
Almost half of our 22 competitors are driving up here from Chicago. So, not only will there be individual winners, but a non-spoken grudge-match between the cities. Who is sexier: Chicago or Minneapolis? The judges will decide! None of the poets traveling here have been at our Erotica Slam before, but a lot of National Poetry Tournaments run an erotica slam as a side event. I'm not sure how wide-spread our Erotica Slam reputation is outside of the Cities, but with this being the start of a full tournament it's likely to grow in popularity. It's a slam so hot, it can lure poets from out of town here in the winter. IF YOU GO:
SlamMN! Erotic Poetry Tournament Kieran's Irish Pub Advance tickets are available for $7-15 online or general admission at the door for $10. 8 p.m. Thursday and Friday; 7 p.m. Saturday