Tonight in Beirut: Contestants Meet for 2018 Poetry Slam

Around 400 people are expected tonight at the second annual Beirut Poetry Slam, where the winning contestant will be sent to the 2019 World Poetry Slam in Paris:

A panel of three judges — Rewa Zeinati, Lisa Luxx, and Hani al-Sawah — will evaluate the ten poets, each of whom will be allowed three minutes on the stage. Each contestant will be given a score from 0-10, and a winner will be chosen by the judges at the end of the night.

The winner will win the chance to go to Paris and participate in the 2019 World Poetry Slam competition.

According to judge Rewa Zeinati, “The idea of a slam was to move poetry events and recitals from the field of academia towards a more popular viewership/listenership. If I had to compare it to traditional Arabic poetry competitions it would be more similar to ‘zajal’ contests, in terms of rhythm, playfulness, wordplay, slang and its appeal to a wider, more inclusive, audience.”

Several months back, contestants sent in applications, and were asked to perform in front of a panel of organizers. The ten contestants were chosen “according to their potential for good presence/performance and their ability to demonstrate their understanding of spoken word poetry,” Zeinati said.

Contestants will perform in either Arabic or English. Zeinati said that, in Paris, the winner “will perform in the language they choose.”