According to their website that has recently gone live, The Performance Poetry Preservation Project (P4) is the only community-supported, grass-roots effort that protects and preserves the recorded history of the poetry slam movement. P4 has begun development of a carefully curated performance poetry archive, designed to document the slam poetry movement.
With so much poetry being recorded these days, the importance of 4P might not be obvious, but as they point out, simply recording an event is not enough. As they note: “Without proper storage, care and stewardship, many of these recordings will simply become unreadable in as little as five to ten years. The media will deteriorate, formats will change, or they will simply be discarded due to a lack of a repository to properly preserve them. Simply put, that stack of CDs on the Slammaster’s shelf will one day be as useless as a drawer full of computer punch cards or a box of 5 ¼ inch floppy disks. A whole generation of poetry history and performance is in danger of being lost.”
Fortunately, the volunteers at P4 are not a bunch of wild-eyed dreamers. They’re a pragmatic group with real years of professional experience in the field. They’re not just building an archive, they’re building it right.
As the collection grows, it will continue to give top priority to material from the first 25 years of the slam, 1987-2012. The collection also hopes to include recordings after 2012, and from before 1987, if the material has a “meaningful influence on the development of the slam.”
Contributions of slam media are welcomed, and 4P will reimburse donors for USPS Priority Mail postage. However, it’s important to first check their website for 4P guidelines and procedures for making donations. To learn more about the Performance Poetry Preservation Project, listen to our podcast interview with Wess Mongo Jolley, the organization’s president.