The reason for its name is obvious when you consider the performance aspect of these poets.

It’s a combination of things – the cadence, the imaginative content or possibly the passion that simmers and explodes on stage. Slam poetry is no longer an underground movement.  It’s a thought-provoking form of poetry.

It’s wild unpredictably and compelling format makes slam poetry the perfect #FunFriday wrap to WomanScape’s week of poetry.  Having attended a slam performance, it’s clear this art is so much more than a conversation by predominantly young people.  Yes, they are angry, questioning, hurt or disappointed but what artist doesn’t use these emotions to create and grow?

Slam poetry is part of a continuum from Fukasi Chiyo-ni, Emily Dickinson, Lisa Ann Markuson and the women you’ll meet here today.  They are all smart and in touch with the world, revealing aspects of life in their own deliberate rhymes and meters that slam us with their truths.

The world of SLAM poetry is the evolutionary art of poetry in our modern world.

Invented in the 1980’s in Chicago by a man from the southeast side, it draws attention to the art of performance in poetry. Marc Smith, affectionately dubbed Slam Papi, created the first competition, but the roots of this popular urban art date back to the 1960’s.

The Last Poets were an underground movement for African American Civil Rights.  It’s fitting that Marc’s breakout genre of slam poetry was introduced in the Green Mill Jazz Club in Chicago.

Here are a few things to know about slam poetry contests before we spotlight two amazing talents who are grabbing some well-deserved attention in the poetry world:

  • There are five judges randomly picked from the audience and contestants perform a 3-minute piece about anything;
  • Rules governing the performance include no music, props or costumes; and,
  • When the performance is finished, judges that are randomly picked from the audience give the contestants a score from 0.0 to 10.0.

On to the poets, Jae Nichelle and Rupi Kaur.  Jae’s slam poetry piece below illustrates the redemptive qualities of poetry.  Jae shares her anxiety with the world with startling creativity and bravery.  Her performance will knock you off your feet like it did the judges of the poetry slam contest in Zimbabwe.

Jae’s tour de force art speaks to one of the most pressing issues in our young people today who struggle with depression and living in a very judgmental society.  Be warned, Jae’s performance has some shocking language but her truth will win you over.

Rupi Kaur is our second poet and quite possibly the youngest literary prodigy in Canadian history.

Her poetry books are shockingly personal, unapologetic and appealing to a fanbase that has grown rapidly over social media.

In fact, Rupi’s story vignettes have been translated into over 30 languages.  Her words connect other young women to a variety of gender-driven concerns that speak to violence, fear, and isolation. Rupi has published two volumes, and for more about her, visit her website.

Enjoy this inspirational story and have an amazing Friday!

Rose McInerney

Rose McInerney

Rose combines her love of all things artfully-designed to connect women to a shared community of learning and a richer, more fulfilled self. As a passionate storyteller, published writer, and international traveler, Rose believes women can build a better world through powerful storytelling.

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