What: Poetry SlamMN!’s 17th Annual Erotica Poetry Slam
When: 8 p.m., Thursday and Friday
Where: Kieran’s Irish Pub, 601 N. First Ave., Minneapolis
Ages: All ages
When it comes to erotic poetry, Minneapolis is not in virgin territory.
“We’ve seen the whole gamut between really beautiful love poetry, to really disgusting stuff, to just the right amount of raunchy,” said Allison Broeren, who has run Poetry SlamMN!’s annual Erotica Slam since 2006. “You see a little bit of everything.”
Perhaps this variety is what has made the slam so popular. City Pages named it the Twin Cities’ best spoken word event of the year, and the show has a longstanding tradition of selling out.
“[The Erotica Slam] was the very first poetry slam they ever had in Minnesota,” local poet and Erotica Slam champion Cynthia French said. “It was kind of a gimmick to sell the slam to Minnesota audiences.”
“The thing about poetry slam is that it’s not scripted,” French said. “It’s not planned in advance. Whoever shows up makes the show.”
French has been involved in the slam scene since 1998 and is currently the Minneapolis Women’s Poetry Slam champion. She also ran the monthly slam at Kieran’s Irish Pub for several years. French has attended almost every Erotica Slam in the event’s 17 years in the Twin Cities and has won more than a couple of them.
“I’ve never actually written an erotic poem,” French said. “I write a lot of humorous poems about sex and dating.”
Comedian Tom Reed, one of last year’s winners, even managed to skirt the topic of sex itself.
“I’ve never taken it seriously in an erotic kind of way,” Reed said. “I did a poem about loving candy — grotesque, intense detail about how much I love the taste of Fun Dip.”
That’s not to say that the slam isn’t aptly named.
“A lot of people do deadly serious poetry that is ultra-revealing,” Reed said. “There will be some stuff that is drippingly graphic.”
The competition is open to anyone, from first-time poets to writers who have made it their tradition to perform. However, that means that you might see people on stage you’d rather not associate with erotica.
“I saw my mom read a dirty haiku last year,” Broeren said. “It was pretty scarring.”
That might not even be the worst of it. In reference to the most scandalous poem she’s seen at the event, Broeren said “there were some donkeys involved.”
This year’s slam promises just as many sexy surprises as previous slams.
“I am attempting to write a love poem to Jack Black to debut,” French said. “It talks a lot about his eyebrows.”