Potluck nature of story slams


[Theme for this month: “Story Slams & Traditional Storytelling- Bridging the Distance.]

My primary thought after my first-ever story slam last October, the Boulder Story Slam:

“Boy, was that potluck!”

Note – I know not all readers of this blog are North American or even native English-speakers, so just in case it’s needed here’s a definition of the North American idiom “Potluck” –
  • a meal or party to which each of the guests contributes a dish:  “a potluck supper”
  • used in reference to a situation in which one must take a chance that whatever is available will prove to be good or acceptable.

In both potluck suppers and story slams:

  • You’re invited to bring something to share
  • You can bring whatever you want (within the guidelines of the slam – even potluck meals sometimes have guidelines…”just salads & sides” or “only desserts,” etc.)
  • You don’t know what all else will be there
  • No careful selection/preparation of “what goes with what”
  • Potluck can result in being introduced to something wonderful you’ve never encountered before
  • Potluck can equal hodgepodge, clashing flavors
  • Can be huge variety in quality and taste

You show up and you just don’t know what will be available to consume…

That first story slam, we heard 10 stories. There were (and some of these overlapped):

  • a few very funny ones
  • a couple-three masterfully/engagingly-told stories
  • a couple were emotionally powerful
  • several were quite mediocre in terms of engaging the audience
  • a couple were filled with profanity
  • one teller went completely blank with two minutes of time left (and remained at the mic for those 2 minutes…)
  • one teller had us in tears of laughter…


Of course, a story swap or oleo of traditional storytelling can be very potluck as well, no question about it.  But my experience so far has been that there is an elevated level of potluck-ish-ness at story slams.

potluck SFc

Wonderful New Year’s potluck at Eth-Noh-Tec!

A potluck can be very satisfying.

Or not.

You takes your chances!

Thanks for reading – Pam


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[Unless otherwise noted, all images are my own.]