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Writing a Slam Poem 101
Transcript of Writing a Slam Poem 101
By Lucas Graff Writing a Slam Poem 101 An Explanation by Shira Erlichman Matt Smith is credited with starting the poetry slam at the Get Me High Lounge in Chicago in November 1984
1990 The first National Poetry Slam took place in Fort Mason, San Francisco - in 2010 NPS features about 80 certified teams each year, culminating in five days of competition
Slams have spread all over the world with slam scenes in Nepal, Canada, Germany, Sweden, France, Austria, Israel, Ukraine, Russia, Switzerland, The Netherlands, Portugal, United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Poland, Serbia, Bosnia, Denmark, Latvia, South Korea, Japan, India, Greece, Spain, and Mexico History of Slam Writing is a painful process that requires huge effort and sleepless nights. In addition to the threat of writer’s block, there is always the sensation that failure is inevitable. Nothing we write is what we wish we could write. Writing is a curse. The worst part of it is the anguish that precedes the act of writing—the hours, days, or months when we search in vain for the phrase that turns the spigot that makes the water flow. Once that first phrase is written, everything changes—the process is enthralling, vital, and enriching, no matter what the final result is. Writing is a blessing! Approach Choose a topic you are passionate about. The poem seems more genuine if written about something you actually care about Topic If you have any idea at all, write it down. It may not make it to the final poem, but it could lead you to other ides Free-Write Feel free to use literary devices such as metaphor and simile. One of the most effective tools is an image. If you can get the reader/audience to picture what you are talking about, they'll be with you even more Description What is this Art thing anyway? Any Questions? The most important one. People aren't stupid; they can see through you if you are being fake. Just take the time to write a 2 or 3 minute poem that means something to you. If it means something to you, it will most likely touch someone else. Be Yourself It's important for a poet to be aware of what other people are doing. While you shouldn't plagiarize them, you can listen to their rhythm and their words and create your own version. Some excellent slam poets are: Saul Williams, Beau Sia, Joshua Bennett, Andrea Gibson, Katie Wirsing, Rachel McKibbens, Sierra Demulder, and Alvin Lau. Also look at www.writebloody.com. Find Examples Edit Your Poems Now it's your turn!
Use one of the writing challenges to write a poem for open mic night! You don't have to perform it but at least you have the option. The Poetry Challenge Main Elements of a
Good Slam Poem Rhythm - Repetition - Rhyme - Your tone and attitude toward the topic makes a difference. Are you angry? Conversational? Nostalgic? Even though Slam poetry is written in free verse (no rules), it has a definite driving rhythm, but not a regular rhythm like in limericks. The rhythm is more closely related to the free verse rhythm that keeps the poem moving from one line to the next Slam poetry uses repetition like a wheel uses a hub and all the spokes link in the hub. Slam poets return to the same word or phrase multiple times within the poem to keep the reader returning time and again to the central focus While there is not a specific rhyme scheme, like in a limerick, the rhyme in slam poetry is used to direct the readers ear toward a particular idea or theme. The entire poem is never rhyming. Rhyme is used in delicate balance with rhythm and repetition as a tool for the poet. "I revise incessantly. Some critics say too much, and they may be right. But if there’s a danger in revising, there is much more danger in not revising. I believe in inspiration, but I also believe that we’ve got to help inspiration, restrain it, and even contradict it."
- Octavio Paz, The Art of Poetry No. 42