A new story sharing format being seen in many urban settings from Boston to San Francisco was inspired by the ‘poetry slam’. These are events where innovative and impromptu artists compete for bragging rights in spoken word poetry, often created on the spot. “Story Slams” occur in many spaces found in urban settings – coffee houses, book stores, and museums. The focus is on the competitive atmosphere of creating or sharing a short story and telling it well. The challenge is often the topic – which may be posted ahead of time or be announced on the spot. Potential tellers put their name in the ‘hat.’
The audiences are often young urban professionals, inner city residents, and night owls. The events are adult : the language is more raw and so are the subjects at times. Many of the traditional styles of storytelling are replaced by more edgy, performance art, and stand up comedy manners and values. Like the old “Gong Show” there is often a scary sense of urgency in winning the attention of the audience before some hook drags you whimpering from the stage! It is challenging, exciting, and can be great fun. A great way to expand story skills, reach new audiences and even begin to mentor young potential storytellers.