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Slamming Poetry Myths

A presentation on how Poetry Slam can capture students' imagination and open their minds to the world of poetry

Anthony Young

on 3 December 2013

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Transcript of Slamming Poetry Myths

Slamming Poetry Myths
An Accessible and Engaging Form
Kids Love Poetry,
They Just Don't Know It Yet

What Is Slam Poetry?
But What About Theory and Technique?
It Leads To More Than Can Be Imagined

As a solo performer who shares his spoken word poetry around the world Anis Morjgani is a wonderful place to start looking at slam poetry. His piece Shake The Dust clearly shows the power of poetry to evoke an emotional reaction and call people into action.
Anis Morjgani - Shake The Dust
Poetry slam is a performance of original work by a poet in front of an audience that uses varied forms of poetic expression blended with performance aspects. It began in the late 1980's in Chicago and has spread throughout the US and the rest of the world rapidly. There are several competitions each year for teams, individuals and young people.
Austin Team - Ink Tigers

As an example of how a team performs slam poetry this video is hard to match. The energy, passion and performance aspects bring a heightened meaning to the words and imagery of the piece. It provides a nice contrast to the Morjgani piece and together the two indicate the scope of slam poetry
This form of poetry is most useful in the classroom to hook students but it does not have to stop there. Many of the poets you will find have their work available in the form of text or are simply adding a performance aspect to the text.
A Short Course
So Let's Start The Journey...

Try It Out
Join The Community
Lukka Lesson - The New Crusades
Lukka's poem 'The New Crusades' was useful in a recent Year 12 task. Students in Literature are asked to comment on the adaptation of a piece of Literature and the way in which the form of the text impacts it's meaning. This is also a component of the Australian Curriculum and the task can be easily adapted for younger levels. Student read Lukka's poem and then viewed his performance from the 2011 National Finals. I then provided them with my own analysis of the adaptation. They then read and adapted one of Michael Laskey's poems and wrote an analysis on their own adaption.
Two years ago I was asked if we would like to be in a slam. I had never heard of them before.
The same time the following year a new group of students won the state schools competition.
The same student now runs a quarterly slam in his home town of Kyenton which is attended by poets from across Melbourne. He has also been asked to perform his poetry at various events and was MC for a Youth Conference in Sydney in November at the Opera House.
Most importantly the excitement about poetry has spread throughout the whole school. We had a House Slam last year and every student wrote and performed poetry.
One of the team entered into the state competition and made it to the National Finals.
This team enters competitions in Melbourne and were the entertainment at the State Poetry Slam Final.
Year 7 students at the end of Semester 1 elected to write and perform and poem in a free choice activity.
My students have made me realise just how many people can be moved to work with and share poetry. Sam started an online community through Facebook which now has over 150 members from around Australia. I think their teacher should keep pace.
1. Write a piece
2. Share your own poetry
3. Have your students write and perform their work
4. Find a local rivalry or share across the nation and have a digital slam via Skype or by sending videos back and forth on Youtube.

The possibilities are endless...
One of the best activities I have done with my students was to use the existing community in Melbourne for inspiration. On a trip to Melbourne we had downloaded poems and listened to them in the places where they were written. Students then wrote their own short pieces in those spaces and performed them. All within 15 minutes.

This team is from a youth competition in America. They went on to be very successful for a number of years but provide a good representation of what students can achieve after only taking on poetry slam for a few weeks.
Brave New Voices - Denver Team

You can find the full document and other resources at:
Oh... and...
This year we had another new team compete at the Melbourne Writer's Festival and successfully defend the school's title.
These students also all individually entered the state competition and continue to compete at other poetry events.
And I myself have competed in several slams, something I thought I would never do and am now considering competing in the 2014 State Competition.
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