OK, so let me get on my Storytelling soap box a bit here. Fortunately the world of storytelling slams has brought enormous popularity to the live storytelling art form. The work has been around since, as we know, the beginning of time and while hailed by audiences who attend, the audiences have sometimes been a secluded bunch. The competition format of story slams, that grew out of poetry slams, have brought live tellings into the mainstream where they ought to be. The fact that people’s stories are being publicly evaluated can be uncomfortable, however people like competition. Audiences like it and participants generally like it. All that being said, it is a shame that a story or storyteller ever feels diminished by what eventually comes down to a vote.
We see the story slam format as an opportunity for storytelling to continue to permeate current culture. I have been a professional storyteller for 14 years and have often been disappointed that the art form has not had a wider audience. The slam format currently allows for that. The growth I have seen in the community that I come from and the growth of this new community has been stunning and I am pumped! I love the attention that the work I have known and loved for so long is being looked at by more eyes, ears, hearts and minds than ever through this “new” approach to storytelling.
Ultimately however, and I think this gets overlooked, the true intension of story slams is to create a space where people can tell stories, hear stories, and be moved and mesmerized by the true power of story. No doubt that competition can sometimes get in the way of seeing that, but that is the original and elemental goal.
I am grateful for the attention that storytelling is getting in the wake of the slam scene. Keep on telling stories!
– Karen Czarnik