August 12, 2011

Poetry Friday--Poetry Slam!

The 2011 National Poetry Slam is taking place just down the road a piece in Cambridge and Boston, MA. It began on Tuesday and ends tomorrow at the The Berklee Performance Center.

Slam poetry isn't going to appeal to everyone--it's performance poetry that is generally loud and angry, or it rends the heart and leaves the listener feeling drained. It's not your grandpa's idea of poetry.

If you wish to learn more about it, the best way to do that is through watching/listening.

Go to YouTube and type "poetry slam" or "slam poetry" into the search box and settle in for an hour or so of dynamic poetry (or even more since you'll end up with about 22,000 results).

If you're more of a book person, look for The Spoken Word Revolution: Slam, Hip Hop & the Poetry of a New Generation edited by Mark Eleveld (Sourcebooks, 2005). It's a brief introduction to slam poetry and it comes with an audio disk.

Here's a completely different kind of slam poem:
Slam Poem

The cats no longer try
to go in that room.
The door has been
slammed in their furry
little faces one too
many times. The thing
of it is--these felines
were smart enough to
learn their lesson.
Me? I'm still trying
to figure out why
I don't have whiskers.

© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved.

Karen Edmisten is the host for this week's Poetry Friday Round-Up.


  1. how the heck did i not know the NPS has been happening IN MY HOME TOWN all this week?

    having helped produe radio broadcasts of slam poetry on the west coast almost a decade ago i have to say that while it is very much about the performance it wasn't all loud and angry. not then at least. it does feed off an audience, and there is much lost in reading slam poetry as opposed to seeing/hearing it performed. that said, it has been a while since i've been to an event and i hope it hasn't all been co-opted entirely by the angry-loud contingent.

    as for the cats and closed doors, they do learn. eventually. some of us never do.

  2. *twitches whiskers*

    Cool poem, Diane -- I've been to a couple of slam poetry performances. Always interesting and dynamic, not always loud and angry.

  3. I think of it as being loud and angry probably because my interests in poetry tend to simple tellings of simple truths. I've been to slams where the tellings border on horrific (catalogs of drunkenness, rape, and other abuse). I don't deny the dynamic, though! I haven't seen enough variety, I guess. All the more reason for me to go tomorrow!

  4. Hi Diane!

    Enjoyed your poem :-) I think there's a wide variety of slam poetry...sorry you had some rough experiences!

  5. Hee hee! I may have lost a whisker or two myself.