Gabija Gataveckaite talks us through the up and coming art form that is slam poetry.
Poetry- the mere word may bring back memories of a dusty classroom and long laborious hours spent ploughing through boring old poems. However, it too has seen digitization and now, fluid and effortless rhymes are thrown at audiences full of people in a new concept called ‘slam poetry’. This sees the poet ‘slam’, a type of spoken word competition which is done through an almost musical version of poetry, where lines have smooth beats and rhythms. The poet stands in front of an audience and judges, rattles off lines accompanied by accentuated tone, gestures and facial expressions and gets a score out of 30.
Slam poetry, which originated in Chicago in 1984, brings brilliant rhymes to life and gives poetry a new, modern twist and is usually written by the speaker. Savannah Brown, who is an American Youtuber, released a slam poem of Nash Grier’s infamous ‘What Guys Look for in Girls’ video in 2014. The slam poem went viral and today totals at 5.3m views. Often, slam poetry is used to make a statement or express a view, for example Neil Hilborn’s personal experiences of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder conveyed through a slam poem, sits proudly with almost 13 million Youtube views. Just like there is singing, writing and acting, there is now also slam poetry; self-expression through the spoken word.
There are also different kinds of slams, for different kinds of poets. ‘Open Slams’ are competitions for everyone who wishes to compete and ‘Invitational Slams’ are those for selected poets only. ‘Theme Slams’ see poets confine to a number of themes, for example Dead Poet Slam, which sees them perform the work of a dead poet. World Poetry Slam, National Poetry Slam and The Women of the World Poetry Slam are all annual events which are hosted by Poetry Slam Incorporations. Last year, Austria held a world-record poetry slam competition, which saw 28 straight hours of slam poetry being performed. Although the spoken word has received some criticism, its popularity seems to be growing worldwide.
If you’re looking to get involved in slam poetry, the world is your oyster. Slam Sundays take place weekly in Filmbase, Temple Bar, where poets get the opportunity to perform and showcase their work. Poetry Ireland also list open mic sessions throughout the country, so there are plenty of ways to get involved, no matter if you’re eager to give slam poetry a go, or just eager to watch.