Put a slam on it: poetry slams

“A poem begins as a lump in the throat, a sense of wrong, a homesickness, a lovesickness.”
--Robert Frost

You could say that there are two types of people in this world. There are those who:

  • abhor poetry because they see it as boring
  • love poetry because they see it as an outlet

One way to keep the tradition of poetry truly vibrant is through poetry slams. These are live, often electrifying performances of one's own poetry. In poetry slams, the poem is the rough draft and the performance is the final version. 

Watch this 5-minute video on Global Writes, the nonprofit in The Bronx that pairs up poets with students. You will see here that the performances come not just from the heart but from the entire body.

 
So, how can you get involved?
 
If you are a high school student at Portland Public Schools, your best bet for making your mark is by taking part in Verselandia, the much-hyped poetry slam series which will be held on Tuesday, April 29th, 2014. If you are an educator working with teens who would like to stage these performances, PBS's News Hour has a slam lesson plan that you could find useful. Want to host a slam just because? Read this slam prep guide from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill complete with a rubric and score sheet.
 
And there is no shame in just observing. If you want to see what's out there, see the slam reading list below or take advantage of our Ask a Librarian service!

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