Hosting any poetry event at the Nuyorican is not for the faint-hearted and the Friday Night Slam is the biggest poetry event we have each week. Our audiences come from all over the world, as well as just next door, to check out the Slam. We have everyone from someone's grandmother to film producers in our audience at any given time, (and the audience is usually pretty large!) so our SlamMasters have their work cut out for them.

What we mean by "SlamMasters" at the Nuyorican Poets Cafe, (or "SlamMistress" for females) is that person who is in charge of our Friday Night Poetry Slams. Besides hosting the evening, this means putting the performers together each week and being an integral part of the Slam community. They book "Spotlight Poets" (non-competing Features that perform before the Slam begins), and get judges from the audience each Friday night. There are a variety of names for this sort of person around the scene... some call them just "hosts" or "emcees". But the role at the Nuyorican means that SlamMasters are deeply involved and committed to the scene and the Slam community at large.

SlamMasters are often poets themselves, but this role requires a certain sacrifice  reading your own poetry on stage is not the reason you are a SlamMaster. It's also a weekly event, so it takes enormous energy. It can be a tricky balance to maintain, especially for those who are themselves developing their literary or theatrical careers.  Besides organizing and presenting an entertaining show to our audiences each and every week, Nuyorican SlamMasters take interest in emerging poets and encourage those who are interested in going on to the National scene. The Nuyorican has been fortunate to have some of the most stage-exciting, charming, intelligent and passionate artists to date hosting and curating our Poetry Slam they have played a major role in the fame and popularity of Slam at the Nuyorican.

I have had the good fortune of seeing every single one of these Friday Night SlamMasters in action, watching the different (and similar) Poetry Slam scenes they created. I also saw the difficult demands of this job and have a great deal of respect for it. Throughout the history of Poetry Slam at the Nuyorican, there always has been the commitment and strength of our SlamMasters, bringing out the freshest voices on the scene. The Nuyorican Slam scene remains forever grateful to them for their dedication and talent. - CU