The spring Slammaster's Council meeting came and went. I was pretty close to skipping it, due to a particularly nasty case of food poisoning. Over the course of three days, I lost five pounds the hard way. At the last minute I felt well enough to make the drive, and I'm glad that we did.
The Slammaster's Council is the main governing body of Poetry Slam, Inc, a non-profit that runs the National Poetry Slam, Individual World Poetry Slam, and Women of the World Poetry Slam. Anyone who runs a regular poetry slam and registers with the non-profit has a vote at the twice-yearly meetings. While the Executive Council performs day-to-day operations, the Slammasters Council creates the policies that our organization tries to operate by. Policies such as the rules of the tournaments, processes for vetting sponsors, qualifications required to compete in NPS, etc. Slammasters also elect EC members when vacancies open.
For the past few meetings, I have served as chair at the behest of the President, Scott Woods. I am honored to fill the role, though I must admit it occasionally feels more like a sentence than a gift.
You see, Slammasters are all A-type personalities. You kind of have to be to start a spoken word poetry show where there wasn't one before. These folks are strong, outspoken, highly opinionated, motivated individuals who are used to commanding the room. That's their job. It is not difficult getting them to agree, it is difficult getting them to stop arguing long enough to realize that they agree with each other.
Certainly there are conflicts of opinion, but since we adopted Robert's Rules of Order, they no longer dominate the meetings as they once did.
Before PSi existed there were Slammaster's meetings and Slam Family meetings. You can parts of one of them in Slam Nation. They were uncomfortable, long, and contentious. I started going to them after the turn of the century, when I started helping with the Ann Arbor Poetry Slam. The first one I attended was in Chicago, I think Marc Smith was running it. I remember it going pretty smoothly, but it was long, and more than a few people left pissed off. Back then there were four Michigan teams, and we were all pretty tight. I sat in the back with Tracy Smith from Kalamazoo wondering why there was so much drama.
There is still drama. Its part of Slam, and that's not going to change. As Slam continues to grow and evolve, we need to separate the drama from the business of putting on our events. If the last Slammaster's meeting was any indication, we are doing a pretty good job of that so far.