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Slam Poetry

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Julie Harding

on 17 March 2017

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Transcript of Slam Poetry

Slam poetry is all about self-expression and the power of words. It started as competition based spoken word poetry derived from performance poetry. The difference between performance poetry and slam is that in slam poetry there is no music and no props - there is nothing but the performer and their words. Slams are also competition based, whereas performance poetry is like an open mic.

1940s & 1950s
The Beat Poets
Oral poetry began way before the Beatniks in the 1940s and 1950s, but at the time of the Beatniks began a style of oral poetry quite similar to Slam Poetry that we have today. Read more about the Beatniks
As you do, answer the following question: How was Beat Poetry incompatible with America in the 1940s and 1950s. What was a major theme/goal of Beat Poetry? Why was it important?


This Prezi will take you on a journey through time and space. We will go back to a time when writers began to blur the line between poetry and prose, when poets began to rebel against the rules and dictates of poetry through experimentation with form and style.

You and your group will be asked to read, listen to and analyze classic examples of Beat poetry as well as modern examples of Slam poetry.

Lastly, you will write your own SLAM poem and have the opportunity to perform it in front of the class.
From the Beats to today
Slam Poetry
The 1940s and 1950s were peaks of conformity in the United States. In the shadow of nuclear war, there was an emphasis on the nuclear family - dad as breadwinner, mom as a SAHM, and two perfect kids. American teenagers looked to graduate high school and embody the virtues of their parents' generation. The United States was viewed as the world's superpower for its military might, its economic dominance, and its emerging cultural icons.
But this had a very high price. In the American neighborhoods, outsiders were suspect. As the Cold War and McCarthyism took center stage, the U.S government cracked down on suspected left-wing influences at home and abroad. The sentiment of unifying and banding together led to extreme measures of censorship and control. There were those who felt repressed by this cultural conformity - especially in the age of nuclear warfare - and sought to define their own culture on the margins.


For the highlighted poet, look up information and be able to answer the following questions:
Why do you think this person was influential?
What is one interesting/important fact about this person?
Allen Ginsberg
The Black Arts Movement was part of the larger Civil Rights Movement. Founded by Amiri Baraka after the death of Malcolm X, the Black Arts Movement was short, but extremely influential. Like most other oral poetry, the poetry of the Black Arts was political and social in nature.

Hip Hop Culture
1970s & 1980s
Hip Hop Culture began in the late 1970s with DJs separating drum beats from songs and overlaying spoken, or "rapped," lyrics. It was movement that sparked much controversy, but one that we still see the influences of today. The early movement was a social and political one, aiming to get African American youth off the streets, and using their energy in creative ways
What do Hip-Hop and poetry have in common?
“Turning a poetry reading into a “show” was a revolutionary idea and it worked. “Show” is the reason the slam has flourished, not competition.”

—Marc “So What” Smith, Founder of Slam Poetry
Slam Poetry brought poetry back into the minds of youth in the 1990s. It helped people know that poetry was not all about the classics, or reading words silently from a page. Slam Poetry, being competition based, has brought excitement back into poetry. It has made poetry accessible to anyone.

What is "Slam Poetry?" Please describe it in your own words.
From Wikipedia:
A poetry slam is a competition at which poets read or recite original work. These performances are then judged on a numeric scale by previously selected members of the audience.

In a poetry slam, members of the audience are chosen by an M.C. or host to act as judges for the event. In the standard slam, there are five judges. After each poet performs, each judge awards a score to that poem. Scores generally range between zero and ten. The highest and lowest score are dropped, giving each performance a rating between zero and thirty points.

A single round at a standard slam consists of performances by all eligible poets. Most slams last multiple rounds, and many involve the elimination of lower-scoring poets in successive rounds. An elimination rubric might run 8-4-2; eight poets in the first round, four in the second, and two in the last. Some slams do not eliminate poets at all.

Props, costumes, and music are always forbidden in slams, distinguishing this category from its immediate predecessor, performance poetry. Additionally, most slams enforce a time limit of three minutes (and a grace period of ten seconds), after which a poet's score may be docked according to how long the poem exceeded the limit.
Writing your own Slam
1. The first thing you need to do is choose a topic for your poem.
The topics of Slam Poems are often political or social. You can choose to do a political or social topic you are passionate about, but that is not a requirement. You may choose any topic that you feel passionate about. It can be about something in your life or an issue you know about. It can be about struggle, fun, or anything else. You get freedom to choose your topic, so choose something that means a lot to you.

2. Once you have chosen your topic, write!
Remember that Slam Poems are meant to be read out loud, so remember that while you are writing.
This website
has some great tips on how to get started if you're stuck, or don't know if you're on the right track.

3. Go back over your poem and revise.
If you didn't look at the two links above to help you write your poem, take a look at them now. They will give you some good ideas on how to create a great Slam Poem.

4. Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse!

I don't expect you to memorize your poem, but you should know it well enough that you can give emotion to your performance. You can only do that if you know your poem pretty well, and you have practiced reading it with the emotion you plan to use in class.
Watch another take on writing Slam here: http://ed.ted.com/lessons/become-a-slam-poet-in-five-steps-gayle-danley#review
Watch some Slam!
Now, write your own.
Jack Kerouac's
On The Road
From Wikipedia:

On the Road
is based on the travels of Kerouac and his friends across America. It is considered a defining work of the postwar Beat and Counterculture generations, with its protagonists living life against a backdrop of jazz
poetry and drug use.he idea for
On the Road
formed during the late 1940s.

Jack Kerouac's writing is an example of "stream of consciousness, which is defined as: a person's thoughts and conscious reactions to events, perceived as a continuous, uninterrupted flow." Watch this short video, then read this excerpt of On the Road. Then, explain what makes it an example "stream of consciousness."

«Oh, we shouldn’t let him go like this. What’ll we do?» Old Dean’s gone, I thought, and out loud
I said, «He’ll be all right.» And off we went to the sad and disinclined concert for which I had no stomach whatever and all the time I was thinking of Dean and how he got back on the train and rode over three thousand miles over that awful land and never knew why he had come anyway, except to see me.
So in America when the sun goes down and I sit on the old broken-down river pier watching the long, long skies over New Jersey and sense all that raw land that rolls in one unbelievable huge bulge over to the West Coast, and all that road going, all the people dreaming in the immensity of it, and in Iowa I know by now the children must be crying in the land where they let the children cry, and tonight the stars’ll be out, and don’t you know that God is Pooh Bear? the evening star must be drooping and shedding her sparkler dims on the prairie, which is just before the coming of complete night that blesses the earth, darkens all rivers, cups the peaks and folds the final shore in, and nobody, nobody knows what’s going to happen to anybody besides the forlorn rags of growing old, I think of Dean Moriarty, I even think of Old Dean Moriarty the father we never found, I think of Dean Moriarty.
Watch all of these. Then, decide which one you think is best and identify at least 4 of the literary poetic devices we have been talking about (repetition, allusion, stream of consciousness, etc. Use those examples to support your explanation of why that poem is better.
To become a SLAM poet, you will need to learn about Slam.
You have finished your homework!!!
Keep going, you
have more homework
We're getting there,
but you still have
more homework.
What is Slam? Please describe
it in your own words.
Full transcript