When you think of poetry, the first thing that pops into mind is probably the poetry anthology book you had to read in high school or not reading those poems for homework or how those things made you hate poetry. Slam poetry takes all those preconceptions of poetry and strips them away. Also known as spoken word or performance poetry, slam poetry is meant to be performed, not read. It focuses on rhythm, voice inflection, and can utilize storytelling. Here are some of the best slam poems that might even sway your hatred poetry:
1. Blythe Baird – “Pocket-Sized Feminism”
“‘You think you can take over the world?’ No, I just want to see it.”
2. Lily Myers – “Shrinking Women”
“And I wonder if my lineage is one of women shrinking, making space for the entrance of men into their lives, not knowing how to fill it back up once they leave. I have been taught accommodation.”
“I asked five questions in genetics class today and all of them started with the word ‘sorry.’”
3. Nkosi Nkululeko – “Not Finished Yet”
“It’s just as a young writer, I’m always led to believe that I’m supposed to compose a dead thing out of my mouth, like a body being tarred or feathered except it’s on the page and you can usually read the blood and the mangled bones as it lifts upon your head, and that’s why I always have to say this before the piece.”
4. Rachel Rostad – “Names”
“When the very first word was written down, something must have been lost. When my parents renamed me Rachel, something must have been lost.”
5. Victoria Morgan – “How to Succeed in Heartbreak”
“Do not pick yourself up. Do not be OK. Because heartbreak is not about being OK. It’s about remembering that you were OK before.”
6. Alex Dang – “What Kind of Asian Are You?”
"Every time you lump an Asian person into one culture it's systematically making us assimilate into an America we thought was better than our war torn home."
7. Darius Simpson and Scout Bostley – “Lost Voices”
"The problem with speaking up for each other is that everyone is left without a voice."
8. Sarah Kay – “Private Parts”
"And the years have spread us like dandelion seeds; sanding down the edges of our jigsaw parts that used to only fit each other."
9. Doc Luben – “14 Lines from Love Letters of Suicide Notes”
"6. 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."
I saved the best two for last. These were the two poems that made me fall in love with slam poetry.
10. Neil Hilborn – “OCD”
“Now, I just think about who else is kissing her. I can’t breathe because he only kisses her once. He doesn’t care if it’s perfect.”
11. Dylan Garity – “Rigged Game”
“In the 1980’s, American slaughterhouses began building corrals in curves so no animals could see the blood at the end of the tracks, this is how we kept them moving forward. In 2001, we began building the hallways of our schools in curves, this is how we keep them moving forward.”