Open Microphone/Poetry Slam
Both open microphone sessions and poetry slams are freewheeling poetry readings in which poets, amateur and professional, present their work dramatically to an audience. In an open microphone session, audience members are invited to come on stage and read their poetry aloud. There are usually no rules or restrictions on the style or content, and the poets are encouraged to express themselves through both their poetry and their voices. A poetry slam is similar, except that it is a contest in which people are judged on their performances of rehearsed pieces of original poetry. Poetry slams are more structured than open microphone sessions, although rules vary greatly. Both kinds of readings are venues for people to express themselves in a casual environment that is usually outside of academic institutions. The Nuyorican Poets Café in New York and Reciprocity and Sankofa Arts Kafé in Dallas are examples of well-known poetry slam venues.