Slam poetry rises in popularity

Kelsey David, reporter

Slam (verb). To shut forcefully and loudly. Poetry (noun). Literary work that uses style and rhythm to express feelings and ideas. Separately, these words seem to have nothing in common. But when you put them together, the meaning becomes something different entirely — the art of the spoken word. Slam poetry (noun). A spoken word competition that puts dual emphasis on writing and performance. Originating in Chicago in 1984, slam poetry slowly migrated throughout America, and branched to our islands in 2005. An organization called Youth Speaks Hawaii began then, and gave teens the opportunity to attend spoken word workshops. At these workshops, teens learn how to write and practice performing their work. Mentors give constructive criticism and advice to those who attend, and allow them to perform without judgement so that they feel comfortable speaking their mind. Poets who participate in slam poetry use this medium as an outlet, a way to express themselves through words. Whether the poem is about a dog, or a recent break-up, students can write to vent, to rant, or just to be heard. At an average slam, there are several basic rules. First off, your poem cannot be longer than 3 minutes, 10 seconds long. Also, while performing, you are not allowed to use props, costumes or music. Each poem is given a score (0.0 to 10.0) from five judges randomly selected from the audience. Slam poetry is not hip-hop, nor is it a serious critique on literary skills. It isn’€™t a bunch of angry performers yelling about social issues, either. Slams bring an incredibly diverse array of demographics, voices, styles, topics and points of view. Performing a poem can be absolutely terrifying. You may stutter and mess up, but getting your message across is what i€™s really important. Slam poetry is a way to make a difference, an opportunity to speak your mind and be heard instead of ignored. So now that the mic is passed over to the youth, it i€™s our job to use it and speak up.