When slamming poetry, it helps to do it in one’s native language.
That’s the concept behind the Slam Series, the only English language slam poetry event of its kind in Israel. Hosted by Tel Aviv theater organization The Stage, performers gathered in Tel Aviv last week for the final event in a six-month poetry and storytelling competition to talk about everything from love gone wrong on a bus in Jerusalem to coming out to their conservative father on a car ride to high school.
“There’s a really strong poetry crowd in Hebrew here. I wanted to open something for people like me who are still learning,” said organizer Karen Lerman.
The audience crowded into an underground bar in south Tel Aviv, decorated with hanging lights and graffiti. They sat on an assortment of benches and chairs and lined the staircase up to the street, voting for their favorite performers on an app.
The storytellers were judged on how well they stuck to the night’s theme, “That explains everything,” whether they abided by the five-minute time limit, and how well they told their story.
Ingride Lewis won the competition for her tale of moving to Israel with her family from apartheid South Africa.
“I think everyone dreams or has tried to write a poem before or loves telling stories at parties,” Lerman said. “People just want to have a place where they have not necessarily been scripted or where they have a part to play.”