What makes slam poetry so different? It’s an open diary. It’s no secret slam poetry leaves your skin goose bumped and your jaw dropped, at least a bit. Hearing passionate meaningful words leaves your mind with overwhelming memories, questions, and thoughts. Slam poetry originated forty years ago but has just risen in popularity. Poetry is honest – it’s what makes poetry. But slam poetry is more than honest- it is human. It is hedonistic: both liberating and torturous. Here are five other reasons to love and appreciate slam poetry:

1. Liberating

Genuine thoughts can become courageous words. Slam poets take the risk of being judged and questioned but the benefits outweigh the costs. Each recited poem is weight lifted from their shoulders and new ideas shared.

2. Remarkable

Listening to slam poetry does many things to us. But if we remember one main thing, it’s how it made us feel. Slam poetry touches the very depths of your feelings. I’ve had epiphanies because of the slam poetry I have witnessed. Poetry does not ask permission to express what needs to be said. Sometimes it makes you feel comfortable and other times it does just the opposite – that is part of what makes this form of art so remarkable.

3. Revolutionary

Slam poetry is perhaps the most excusable form of revolt since it is thoughts written on paper. Because it is thoughts that are soulful, wholesome, and permissible, the words get away with a lot. Freedom of speech does poets a lot of good when criticizing the pillars of our society, politics, and ideals.

4. Honest

The thing about writing is that it allows you to get things off of your chest. It essentially serves as the psychologist who doesn’t really exist. You tell this psychologist , aka journal, everything about your life: your feelings, emotions, opinions, angers, disappointments, excitements, happiness, sadness, achievements, criticisms, failures, regrets, and everything you experience in your day to day life. It becomes an art, an authentic art.

5. Impactful

When writing poetry, there is one goal: to write something meaningful. It doesn’t need to be prudent or polite. Slam poetry criticizes society, rethinks politics, and takes a stance on a controversy. It screams what may be deemed taboo and embraces what makes us feel upset. Writers want to leave you thinking and they want to leave thoughts lingering in the minds of their audience in order to plant the seed of change.

Slam poetry is practicing both writing poetry and performing on stage which, in unison, create a beautiful form of art. I encourage you to take the time to check out a local event – you won’t regret it!

Image: Flickr


For centuries, poetry has been an oral tradition used to pass along ancient stories and lessons; poetry has been utilized to connect the present to the past through high-minded speech and rhythm. However, this elevated form of writing soon bored people, conceiving the idea that some new art form was needed to revitalize poetry. That reviver is now known as slam poetry.

In a lot of ways, slam poetry owes its creation to the Beat and Negritude poets whose devotion to the oral and performed facets of poetry led to the birth and rise of slam poetry in the 1990’s. Slams consisted of young artists competing for the attention and adoration of the audience by exploring political, racial, and even economical notions or injustices. Spoken word such as this has fostered a sense of creativity amongst writers while simultaneously keeping the public aware of current issues.

A slam poem that I find incredibly powerful is “Pretty” by Katie Makkai. Makkai explores the notion of pretty and the pressures our society puts on superficiality and appearance. She tells the audience a personal story of her struggles with her own looks as a teenager: she had braces, acne, and eventually got a nose job. By sharing her previous insecurities and her current regret for changing herself to fit societal standards, Makkai is reaching out to change the ideals we hold for young, “beautiful” people. Makkai exclaims how wrong all of this is seeing as she has not “seen her own face in ten years,” and explains how if she ever has a daughter who asks if she is pretty, she will respond by saying “she cannot be defined by five letters.” That she will be “pretty intelligent, and pretty amazing,” but pretty is not all that she will be.

Slam poetry, whether written or just listened to, can be an extraordinary tool for changing the world. By analyzing social issues, we cultivate attention for problems facing our world today. Also, by getting involved in art and in situations that promote intelligent thought, we are creating a brighter, more perceptive future for people. Check out Button Poetry, awesome website that has some amazing slam poems and slam competitions. Peruse them and learn things you might not have known before.

Image: Christian Senger