Poetry is a performative art; it was meant to be read aloud to an audience in order to invoke a response. The oldest known poetry is the Greek and Sanskrit epics. These were meant to be sung and were recorded in writing only after several (hundred) years. The Greek had the lyre accompany their earliest forms of poetry. The tradition was continued with Chinese poetry, that makes for some of the oldest known poems, which also have a rhythm- quite appropriate to be sung.
Poetry constituted the nobility and aristocracy’s way of conversation for the better part of history all across the world. From sonnets to haikus, poetry has adorned courts and high places and disregarding the Marxist criticism, Romantic poetry seems to be the most relatable and empowering verse that everyone enjoys and quotes.
The new millennium, not so fresh anymore, seems to have a form of poetry that is omnipresent across several cultures- the art of Slam Poetry. In the post colonial modern world, we are better linguistically connected than we have ever been. In the age of globalization, content travels faster than we can blink, connects us in ways we thought were not accomplishable. With technicalities and technological advancements, art and literature flow free and fast like the alliterations in this sentence. A piece of rhyme I write tonight can be on your news feed tomorrow morning and a video posted by Button Poetry can go viral across the world in less than six hours. If you don’t know, Button Poetry is the biggest YouTube channel that posts slam performances by poets, and you should already be subscribed to it.
Slam poetry has amassed more followers and patrons than any form of aesthetic pleasure, perhaps only beaten by fidget spinners very recently. Slam poetry is the art of performing a poem not like a ballad or a song but like a direct dialogue from the poet to the audience. It is free from the constraints of poetic meters and rhyme schemes, making it the easiest form of poetry to execute, and thereby the most expressive and personal. Slam poets write about love and romance, about life and death, and everything else from the anguish of life and existence to the struggles of mental illness. It is a recluse for the reader like poetry has always been, but so much more personal.
Slam is a platform for starting a dialogue, inciting thoughts and asking difficult questions; it addresses the issues which finally aren’t shushed up and shooed away. By extension, slam poetry is perhaps the way of interaction and expression chosen by and for the age we live in. It is the fusion of performing in theatre and writing verse, an amalgamation that was designed to move people in ways previously unimaginable.
By now you should be absolutely enthralled or utterly curious about what this art is. Either way, you should go and check out another slam poem about now. My recommendation would be something by Neil Hilborn or Sarah Kaye, but whatever you enjoy is awesome. And if you know someone that you think we all should know about, let us know in the comment-section below.
Article By Kirti Suri