Slam Nation: The Sport of Spoken Word

DIRECTED BY: Paul Devlin

REVIEWED: 09-28-98

In poetry slams, which originated in Chicago barrooms, poets compete against one another and are given scores by a panel of judges chosen from the audience. For the National Poetry Slam, cities from across the country select, through a local poetry slam, a team of four poets to represent them.

Directed by Emmy-winner Paul Devlin, whose past credits include NBC and CBS Olympics and ESPN2's Extreme Games 101, SlamNation is a feature-length documentary about the 1996 National Poetry Slam in Portland, Oregon. Devlin approaches the event from a sports-journalism perspective, offering insight into the psychology of the participants, their pre-competition strategies, and the glory of the struggle through before-and-after interviews and live footage of the slam. And the articulate, adrenaline-driven performances by, among others, Saul Williams, former Globe columnist Patricia Smith, and Taylor Mali combine with Devlin's fast-paced editing to make SlamNation an exciting and entertaining film.

--Nicholas Patterson

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