The Poignancy of Slam Poetry


           Slam poetry: the underground art of unrestrained power and poignancy that many have yet to uncover.  Quite recently, I have become absolutely enthralled with slam poetry. Some of you may have never heard of it before, or if you have, you may only know of it through its associated stereotypes, as performances are commonly portrayed as being cliche and melodramatic shows of people shouting and saying random words at different volumes, but not really saying anything of substance (think of that slam poetry scene in 22 Jump Street.) However, the references and depictions of slam poetry sessions that you often see in film are caricatures, and far from what true performances are like. In reality, listening to slam poetry is like being in a wonderland, or a different dimension. I am captivated by the true rawness and vulnerability each poet displays, unapologetically exposing a part of themselves and sharing their deepest inner thoughts with the world. While listening to each poem, you can feel yourself teleporting through space and time, ignoring the laws of physics, to find yourself right in the moment that the poet is describing. You feel as if you're right there with them, watching the whole story unfold before your eyes. At the end of it all, the poet makes the listener feel lucky and grateful to have been given an unfiltered glimpse into their hearts and minds.

           With this being said, I would like to share three of my favorite slam poems at the moment, for those of you who have not previously seen or listened to slam poetry in action and are curious, or if you're an avid fan who is looking to add to their collection.

1) Love is Thicker - Donte Collins
           In my opinion, this poem is incredibly gorgeous. It is one that I have listened to numerous times yet never get tired of.  Donte Collins has the most soothing and magical voice that really makes the poem come to life, and the creative way that he manipulates figurative language to tell his story never fails to leave me in awe. In hushed tones, he proclaims his belief that "if blood is thicker than water, then love must be thicker than both."

2) Oreo - Tucker Bryant
           This poem is one that encompasses all of the unbridled anger and fiery passion that is necessary when people of color discuss racism. In this case, Tucker Bryant discusses white privilege and colorism, touching upon his own light-skinned privilege to deconstruct the derogatory racial term "oreo" with a clever use of word play that is hard to forget.

3) Dark Girl Magic - Sarah Ogutu
           In this poem, author Sarah Ogutu relays a warning to all black girls looking for love, especially in a white man, and cautions them to take heed of a white man's words and actions because he is most likely only concerned with fulfilling his own agenda in reality. What makes this poem particularly unique and interesting is the accent that Ogutu uses while reciting this poem. She adopts somewhat of a slow Southern drawl, full of AAVE, that is reminiscent of one that a black grandmother might have. Ogutu reminds black girls to stay alert and not to fall head-over-heels to prevent themselves from potentially falling prey to a white man's trap.
   
           To see more of this, subscribe to channels such as Button Poetry, and other poetry channels similar to it, on YouTube. May your poetry hunt be everything you've hoped for and more.

text: aneya sousa
visual: button poetry

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