Sir Ken Robinson has likened professors as brains with the unfortunate presence of a body, saying they focus solely on the cerebral and all too often fail to recognize their bodies and its role in intelligence and learning. I think much can be said of poets. I bring this up only because I could only think of that image while reading an article that asked 'established' poets what worried them about new trends in poetry (find it here: http://www.bloomsburyreview.com/Archives/2004/Troubling%20Poetry%20Trends.pdf ). While there was no consensus on the topic, it seemed there were a number who voiced concern over the ever growing popularity of slam poetry. Check out http://www.poetryslam.com/ for more information if you're clueless.
I feel that slam poetry should be encouraged by all poets on the simple fact that any and all attempts to make poetry more accessible are good for the health of poetry. Although described as more masculine and akin to sports by one critic, slam poetry merges the popularity of rap music with the allure of competition. These two are very popular with youth (and adults) who do not have any exposure to poetry, save from their English class. Slam poetry provides a venue to "see" poetry in action, as opposed to just having to read it for an assignment. Having someone speak out passionately about an emotionally charged topic can be exhilarating if you let your senses take in what's being fed to them. Unfortunately, when many of the critics hear slam poetry, they tend to take in the words only...where they become subjects to dissect, analyze, and excoriate to see if they stand the litmus test of time. Just as great teaching does, slam poetry stimulates more than just one area of the mind.
Now, even those poets who don't believe all of the previous statements, hopefully they can admit to this one: slam poetry brings a wider audience to the table. That alone should be enough to convince poets of all styles to unite behind its support. Likewise, slam poetry needs to bring more of the 'conventional' poets to the audience's attention. Slam poetry has the potential of being a 'gateway drug' for budding poets to move to different styles. I think by embrancing both sides, each could provide a mutually benefitting relationship. The end result of this relationship should be in a larger support for poetry in general.
What argument could be more important than that?