The all-too-shallow days of Shakespearean sonnets are over. Those countless, precious hours you spent deciphering the meter or the rhyme scheme or the whatever of that poem during your English class is now a thing of the past.
I introduce to you: Slam Poetry.
As our society enters a modern age of rapidly changing technology and science, the arts and humanities, too, begin to see a change for new contemporary ways. And surprisingly, the two interact much more frequently than you think. As technology introduces to us a globalized and interdependent society in which our modes of communication become infinitely broadened, the way we express our thoughts expand as well.
Slam poetry seeks to deconstruct the mysteriously interpretive and inherently confusing ways of traditional art forms in order to establish a minimalistic form of expression in which our ideas are blatantly laid out for the audience to hear, see, and most importantly, feel.
“The inner machinations of my mind are an enigma.” -Patrick Star.
That being said, if you are a fan of conventional art forms and believe that slam poetry (as well as other forms of modern and contemporary art) take away from the symbolic beauty that rests behind its interpretive form, then by all means, stick with what you love. However, regardless of your artistic preference, slam poetry instills in us many crucial skill sets that are highly valued in our pragmatic world.
1. Creative Writing.
Sure, it may just be poetry. But I’ve taken an Introduction to Poetry class this semester in college, and I’ve actually learned a lot of unexpected skills through poetry that not only assists me with prose writing, but academic writing as well.
For starters, poetry teaches us to be concise with our words. It forces us to our absolute limits to remove unnecessary language. Furthermore, slam poetry teaches us to rid ourselves of ostentatious vocabulary (irony intended). It forces us to prioritize function over form, and shows us that there is beauty in minimalism. Sometimes, less is, in fact, more.
It also teaches us to be expressive, to convey ideas that are difficult to do so by words alone. Just because you’re writing a research paper about an oil company in Ecuador, it doesn’t mean that your writing has to be boring. Academia does not inherently imply uninteresting. Use the powerful language you learn through slam poetry to deliver some impactful lines in your academic writing. Your professors will be eternally grateful for keeping them engaged as they drudge through the piles upon piles of fifteen page research papers.
2. Public Speaking.
Obviously, going on any stage to speak to an audience can be a frightening event. Especially when it involves speaking on creative work produced by your deepest thoughts. And furthermore especially when it involves verbal timing, expressive vocalization, accurate punctuation, and other skills crucial in the oral art of slam poetry. But I promise you, it gets easier every time. You learn to hone in on these skills as well as others, such as engaging with the audience and understanding the mood of your environment.
The slam poetry community seeks to simultaneously inaugurate new members, while engaging with its current members. Any rule in a group of creative thinkers and writers is constructive criticism and respect for each other’s work. Overall, slam poetry is an empowering art that really builds one’s confidence, in many different aspects of his/her life.
3. Human Expression.
This is something that’s obviously less quantifiable than the other two skills. But learning to express your ideas will take you very far not only in the world of academia and workforce, but the ability to convey your emotions will take you very far in the world of human interaction as well. But I’m going to stop speaking on this so I don’t continue to sound like a crazy hippie. Just trust me on this, okay?
If this doesn’t appeal to you, that’s totally fine. I am merely more than grateful of the fact that you were appreciative enough of this evolving art form to even read to the end of this article. But if this does in fact, appeal to you, even just a little: consider it. There are many rewards to be reaped—not only in terms of lifelong skills, but in terms of monetary compensation through competitions as well. Many colleges, and even high schools, are beginning to introduce slam poetry groups and venues. If there isn’t one at yours, be the revolutionary that brings slam poetry to your campus!