Slam poetry is a form of poetry that I never really thought would appeal to me. Poetry is a private, personal thing. Not something that you share during an open mic night at university. But then, I stopped being such a poetry snob, put down my collection of Byron and listened to some slam poetry with a (slightly) more open mind. The first one I stumbled across was called ‘Hi, I’m a slut’ and can be found on YouTube (I would suggest listening to it, if you haven’t already) I never thought that slam poetry would appeal to me…
Damn, was I wrong!
It was one of the most incredible poems I’ve ever found and honestly, I think I must have listened to it at least a hundred times in the last six months. I will never again shun a kind of poetry because it doesn’t fit in with my previous expectations.
Savannah Brown’s poem holds so much raw emotion that, in fact, I now feel it would be impossible to enjoy it in any way other than as performance poetry. If you just read it from a book, you lose so much of that emotion because so much of it is just from her voice, not even the words. It’s amazing, go listen to it now! Now!
But, it was not actually this poem that encouraged me to write this post. But another brilliant piece of slam poetry from Harry Baker – slam poetry world champion. An incredible poem called ‘Paper People’. To manage to talk about politics and greed and war and still manage to make me laugh in less than three minutes is pretty impressive. What starts as a deceptively simple poem (simple thematically, I mean!) quickly becomes a wonderfully astute critique of society as a whole.
And, as you’ll know if you read my post about The Great Gatsby, there is nothing I love more than a social critique of society!
But, if I thought that simply listening to it was incredible, I very quickly found that it was nothing compared to seeing it performed live.
I was lucky enough to be able to see Harry Baker live as part of the Appledore Book Festival – a large literary festival set in a very small town – and honestly, I was completely blown away.
Because his poetry is so much more incredible when you’re part of it – and that is saying something, because I thought that it was pretty damn incredible before this – because when you actually have to repeat the random German phrase back at him, it’s a lot more fun than mumbling it awkwardly under your breath! The atmosphere makes everything more wonderful and honestly, I would do it all over again right now if I could.
And if getting to see him perform wasn’t enough, I also got to meet him afterwards… I wanted to tell him how amazing I thought his poetry was but instead all I managed was my name and an awkward request for a photo. (maybe if I’m lucky he’ll find this and know how amazing I think he was)
But the main point of this post is not to prove to you all how awkward I am but in fact to encourage you to give slam poetry a chance because it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
Actually, not just to give slam poetry a chance but instead to give everything a chance, particularly if you’ve already decided that you won’t like it. Basically, as long as it’s legal, give it a go!