The word ‘poetry’ might have sent a John Donne/Sylvia Plath/”two roads diverge in a yellow wood”-induced shiver down our spine a few years back but now that we’ve gotten a little bit older and (debatably) more mature, we’ve found ourselves coming full circle and actually getting what our English teacher was raving about. There really is an emotional depth in the brevity and beauty of poetic verse that cannot be recreated by long-form literature. Like a sorrowful melody that springs tears before you’ve even mentally registered what you’re feeling.
Lately, we’ve become even more captivated by the slam poetry performance medium. Slam poetry moves away from the traditional printed rhyming word to a performance-based theatre that thrives on diversity and it’s become a space where women in particular have found a voice.
Sometimes it can feel that opinion is prized above experience, where your take on an issue is more important than your experience of it. We have all heard what people think the term “feminism” means and its relevance to society, but slam poetry allows the audience to understand the experience of being a woman – the lightning fear that runs through you when a guy stands behind you at a darkened bus stop, the frustration that bubbles when the takeout you ordered is handed to your silent boyfriend, the embarrassment that brightens your cheeks when a bouncer tells you “you should be so lucky” for a guy’s unwanted attention on a dancefloor.
The first one we came across was Lily Myers’ “Shrinking Women” and we must confess we’ve come back to it again and again. The simplicity with which she describes how women innately inherit negative habits from their elders has us removing “just” and “sorry” from every e-mail.
Still unsure as to what slam poetry is? Essentially, it’s a dramatic reading of a piece of writing designed to enhance and portray the series of emotions that weave around the story – the performance is as much a part of the poetry as the words. They’re also as interesting and informative as a TED talk but take half the time and have twice the passion so obviously, the internet loves them.
We’ve rounded up the best we’ve stumbled across (for many more check out Button Poetry on YouTube) so make sure your co-workers can’t see you get misty-eyed and watch these talented slam poets rhythmically pour their heart out.
Blythe Baird – Girl Code 101
Dominique Christina – The Period Poem
Sabrina Benaim – Explaining My Depression to my Mother
Blythe Baird – Pocket-Sized Feminism
Katie Makkai – Pretty