There is a common misconception about the genre of "slam" poetry, that it all sounds the same. Yes, the syncopated rhythm is replicable. What I often see are very young poets repeating what they perceive as good poetry. But many developed poets grow to understand that they have their own voice that must be cultivated.
However like many of the poets who are not influenced by the genre of spoken word... poetry, many slam people still imitate other writers' works; imitation being the highest form of flattery. I would like to make it clear that we veterans of the London poetry slam do not enjoy this cadence and work to develop our own matured writing voice just like everyone who attends Poetry London and London Poetry Open Mic.
A little context to the evolution of poetry events: Poetry slams started as a reaction to the sophisticated, upper brow poetry reading all too common prior to the 1980's. Still relevant today, “noobs” would be put at the end of the night, after all the popular poets performed. The result was an empty venue and belittled
writers. A poetry slam was built so everyone could have a chance to share. To
let all styles of writing be shared on stage. Journalism, skits, novella excerpts, sonnets, etc. There is a 3 minute time limit to let everyone have a chance to share.
As for the political/catharsis nature of many poems, with slam that depends totally on the writers who attend. However, many poets/writers pre-judge the event as political or for only one style, and don’t see the totality of creative writing. They prematurely judge and so don’t attend the event due to bias. Slam isn't about a style of poetry, it is about everyone having a chance to share.
In regards to the competition aspect, that is based in dadism or absurdism. It is a farce. Points cannot be given to poetry. We have a saying in the writing community that winning is unpredictable; in other words, "any given sunday". The idea behind a cash prize is that we try to encourage people to continue developing their voice and reward writers for such.
So, if there was a lack of representation from non-spoken word poets at slams,, it is not because of the structure of the event, but the outsiders making judgements. Our slam is the "show the love" slam. We accept all. Even better, we encourage young writers by letting them share their work, just as was done at the first Wednesday Poetry Open Mic.
Fostering poetry in London. I do not believe an "us" and "they" perspective would
legitimately build the London literary community. That being said two slams are
scheduled for October. On the 19th at the London Music Club from 8 to 11 and a
Youth Slam on the 27th at King's University College from 6 to 9. I hope to see
many first-timers – young and old – share their stories, ideas, and messages!