Slam poetry competitions are keeping poetry alive

In Opinion
Edgar Allen's poem of Annabel Lee on the hair of a woman.
Poetry is still alive and well. Poetry slams help give voice to poets who still deserve more recognition than they are given. (Anita Huor / Daily Titan)

While many may find poetry to be a rare form of expression these days, it still lives and breathes. The heartfelt rhymes and stanzas of poets like Sylvia Plath and Edgar Allan Poe take on an evolved form through slam poetry, a form of language that deserves more recognition than it receives.

Tucked away in café corners, a supposedly uncommunicative generation of emotionally charged young people connect through slam poetry — a competition of spoken word for a victorious title in front of an audience.

All it takes is a microphone and an unwavering passion for stringing beautiful and rhythmic phrases together to make poetry come to life.

El Modena High School entertained this idea when they hosted a slam poetry event at The Night Owl in Downtown Fullerton. Poetry Slam, Inc. has an annual national competition where teams of poets participate in hopes of receiving the title of champion. The group also plans to host an individual competition being hosted in San Diego this October.

Poetry isn’t the archaic language of the past or part of some boring agenda imposed on an English classroom forcing students to try to interpret indecipherable lines. Poetry combines rhythm and language in a way no other form of writing can, and slam poetry takes it a step further by giving people the chance to listen.

Events like poetry slams are living proof that people are still passionate about the words they speak. It’s not a senseless rush of meaningless phrases meant to give short bursts of information. It’s not the last-minute words of a politician who is trying to give the public what they want to hear.

The words spoken by poets are pure, and poems convey the little thoughts stuck in the crannies of people’s brains they sometimes doubt whether to say aloud.

Grand Slam Poetry Champion, Harry Baker, had a TEDx Talk on a poem about prime numbers, but like everything in poetry, it wasn’t just about the topic, but the story as a whole.

Modern poets use slam poetry as a method of communicating their emotions through contemporary literature, making it one of the many ways poetry continues to be heard.

Poetry will continue to live on, even when it gets pushed aside or ignored. These words will eventually come out and brilliant minds can piece together these random thoughts and work magic.

Modern poets are the ones we should be listening to, the ones who care less about whether they are heard by millions and more about what they are saying. Poets are just happy if at least one person in the world feels the same.

After listening to a Ted Talk poem by Sarah Kay, a person’s state of well-being will be completely different because of her captivating words that demand attention. Her first words state, “If I should have a daughter, instead of Mom, she’s going to call me Point B,” and start an emotional journey about the struggles of growing up.

These are the people who are honest enough to convey their opinions, the people who emotionally drain themselves by pouring their hearts out in front of others to speak universal truths of everyday struggles in artful, poetic language.

Modern poets deserve to be recognized for their work. Credit and appreciation are hardly given, as with many starving artists, and it isn’t until later that people realize what great minds they’ve ignored. This mentality has to change as slam poetry gives physical voice to a poet’s work.

Poetry is unique and an essential form of communication. With poetry slams becoming more popular through national competitions and Ted Talks, all it takes is a curious mind to begin the irreplaceable and emotionally impactful journey of poetry.

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