History Slam

Historians Are Writers! (HAW!) hosts a History Slam every year, at the end of the spring semester.

What, you ask, is a history slam? It’s like a poetry slam (only with history), or a blues jam (only not at a bar). It’s an open format, alternative way to present creative historical work to a sympathetic, supportive audience. It’s the sort of informal gathering for which you can sign up ahead of time, and be scheduled, or you can decide on the spur-of-the-moment to stand up and share your stuff.

We seek readings, showings, and performances of short works that are no more than 10 minutes long and that experiment with the creative possibilities of language and history, broadly conceived. This might mean that you flirt with the boundary between fact and fiction. Or maybe you throw all caution to the wind, jump the dividing line, and whole-heartedly embrace the possibilities of fantasy. Perhaps you will experiment with chronology: why does time need to run in a linear fashion, anyway? Or maybe you experiment with voices, or tenses, or your position as author. What happens if your historical characters are self-aware? Can histories show love or hatred? What about histories of the present, or the future? What role might symbolism or metaphor play in historical prose?  Can one create a minimalist history? Might you experiment with sound, rhythm, rhyme, pace, or texture? What role might images, or music, or smells play in an experimental history? How will you balance showing, telling, and withholding information? Where will you locate the boundary between creator and created, audience and text?

So limber up your fingers, top off the ink in your pen, and get to work exploring creative histories!

Our call for volunteers will come at the end of April… And although we’d like to get a few committed names on the sign-up sheet, there is no need to sign up ahead of time in order to share your work: bring it to the Slam, and jump up to present when you feel moved by the creative spirit. After the first hour or so, the format is open mic, so feel free to bring something so that you can jump in if it feels right. The Slam is a chance to try out new approaches, new voices, new ideas in your writing, and to explore what it feels like to speak and listen to our writing out loud.

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