Recently, as I was scrolling through various social media outlets, a single video seemed to populate my feed. It was a form of art in which I had no prior exposure: slam poetry. This poem, in particular, was written by Neil Hilsborn, a graduate of Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota. The poem titled "OCD" was originally written as, what Neil described in his TED talk, "a snarky, fake, angry breakup letter to a woman" who left him. Through the editing process, the jokes diminished and eventually, the poem came to be what it is today.
After watching this video through social media, I searched on Youtube to watch it again (and again). The video was uploaded by a user called Button Poetry, which I discovered is a Minnesota-based organization that supports performance poetry through production and distribution methods. Their Youtube channel contains many spoken-word videos. After exploring these various performances, I fell absolutely in love with this form of art.
Not only is the poetry itself breathtaking--the word flow, word choice, etc.--but the emotions conveyed throughout the reading by the authors adds a raw and genuine feeling to the pieces. The authors are able to project their own sentiments during the performance. You're able to hear the pain in their voice during a heart-wrenching piece about breakups. You have the ability to observe the shaking and trembling of the girl reading the poem about PTSD. You can see the pain in the eyes of the ones struggling with mental illness. This type of poetry is incredibly powerful; I honestly develop goosebumps after almost every video.
Below is a collection of my favorite videos I have discovered thus far, including brief descriptions of the poems, as well as my favorite quotes. If you're interested in poetry, or even if you aren't, I highly suggest watching at least one of these videos. Enjoy!
I briefly described this poem previously. After describing falling in love with a girl, Neil illustrates the distance she started putting between the two of them, eventually telling him their love was a mistake. It's an incredibly heartbreaking and moving poem that concludes with my favorite quote: "I want her back so bad, I leave the door unlocked. I leave the lights on."
In this poem, Doc takes a collection of quotes from either love letters or suicide notes, reading them to the audience to decipher the source of the quote: a love letter or a suicide note. I am entirely uncertain of the source of every single quote included by Doc, including my favorite, "I always imagined this would happen without warning, like suddenly on an ocean cliffside, but this is the kind of thing where waiting for the time to be right would just mean waiting forever."
With the "triggered" joke becoming more and more prevalent in today's society, this video is important to show triggers are a real problem for people struggling with PTSD. The poet, we can infer, was emotionally and sexually abused in her relationship. "Loving someone is handing them a map of your weak spots." After sending her ex-boyfriend to jail, she developed severe paranoia caused by PTSD, which resulted in her becoming unnerved by various objects, people, and environments that once made her feel safe. Becoming triggered is a very, very real reaction, and this poem can perfectly illustrate it.
The title practically speaks for itself, in this case. A father sends a message to the boy that may one day date his daughter. Both hilarious and thought-provoking, it's a must-listen. "Consider my genes a mark of Cain, you will suffer seven times whatever you do to her. And she will not keep your secret, you can't make fire feel afraid."
Love is changing within the new phase of technology. Suddenly, we are willing to say and do anything over texts or social media. We are disconnecting ourselves from real-life interactions and learning to love from a distance. "I never call her, we just send texts. I'm forgetting the sound of her voice, the taste and pressing calm of her lips. I want to leave her when she 'lol's'. Every time. But this is how we have learned to love."