Are you concerned that slam poetry is in danger of being too commercialized and only becoming popular for capitalist "public entertainment" value rather than appreciated for its artistic quality?
Though I could take this as a valid concern, I am no more afraid of the commercialization of slam poetry than I am afraid for that of music or film or theater. The reality of the capitalist nation we live in is that the expansion of any commodity into mass production will result in some adulterations of the original idea. Let it be said that this is less a critique of slam poetry and more a critique of the social fabric that begins to imply itself within slam culture. I guess the long and short of it is that slam poetry will serve the social purpose it is intended to serve as our society changes. Slam poetry is not now nor has it ever been just one thing. Furthermore, the truth is that the concept of slam poetry began out of a sense of commercialization. The scores were added to the presentation of poetry in order to draw a larger audience. Combined with other social influences it became an outlet for many who would not have otherwise known the power of their own voice.
So is it (performance poetry) to be used as an alternative form of artists' self-promotion?
As far as people using the art form as a means by which to expand their own voice: I find this fascinating. Not a bastardization of the art but simply a product of the art. The larger question is: what is going on in our society that we have so many people who consider themselves voiceless thus needing a "gimmick" like slam poetry to attain some sort of value and agency. Slam poetry being used as a platform for the gratification of one's voice, to me, is a step in the RIGHT direction, because in order to gratify one's own voice one must first acknowledge that one has a voice. To then find value in one's voice—so much so that one is gratified—is not always arrogance; sometimes this is the attainment of power. That is the power of identity, agency, and the confidence therein.
This is really the natural process of any art-form—whether we choose to acknowledge it or not, most of us are initially attracted to an art-form because it feels good—to us. It is not until later that we develop the art as a platform by which to speak in the support of others. Notice: many nascent slam artists write poems about their own struggle. Later in their careers most—not all—use slam poetry to tell the stories of others. To gratify one's voice is to empower one's voice. Maturity inside the art will happen.