Over the course of this blog I’ve mentioned a few times that I do spoken word poetry. An important part of spoken word, as with any art form, is studying the successful works of others in order to learn from other poets. Over the past two years I've watched a lot of performances in person and online, and I thought it would be worthwhile to share some of the best I’ve seen with you guys. So here are ten slam poem that I think everyone should watch. Enjoy!
P.S. If you want to check any of the poems out after reading the description, clicking the name will take you to a Youtube video of the performance. Yay technology!
1. “OCD,” Neil Hilborn- The performance of this poem is absolutely incredible. With the abundance of repeated lines, Hilborn perfectly conveys the aspects of OCD that he wants to get across. That, combined with the absolute dagger-to-the-heart quality of the last few lines, makes this piece amazingly powerful.
2. “Pretty,” Katie Makkai- This poem is absolutely packed with beautiful line on beautiful line, all delivered in a wonderfully powerful and confident voice. The final twist on the word “pretty” brings this poem, written 8 years ago but still just as relevant and meaningful today, to a perfect close.
3. “Direct Orders.” Anis Mojgani- One of the most powerfully and raucously joyful poems I’ve ever listened to. Mojgani does a wonderful job of turning hopeless situations into reasons to celebrate and “rock out,” which makes this poem well worth watching.
4. “Sista Girlfriend,” Zora Howard- I discovered this poem a few days ago and promptly watched it about 4 times in a row, which in all honestly probably isn’t enough times to appreciate all the beauty in it. It’s also a perfect example of how a poem can build, both in terms of delivery and tone.
5. “Lost Voices,” Darius Simpson and Scout Bostley- A poem that wonderfully combines both thoughtful premise and perfectly executed performance. The two poets in this piece actually perform each others parts (which are beautifully written) to drive home their message: “The problem with speaking up for each other is that everyone is left without a voice.”
6. “Problem With What’s Taught in In School,” Fong Tran- This poem demands to b watched more than once on the strength of its wordplay alone. There are whole sentences that are completely alliterative, and the use of rhyme is wonderfully subtle, When you add a powerful message into the mix, it’s easy to see why this poem is pure brilliance.
7. “Ten Responses To The Phrase ‘Man Up’,” Guante- This poem is a perfect example of the way a poem can decrescendo powerfully, form a raucous start to a quieter and heartfelt middle, and back up to a boisterous end. It also shares a message that’s incredibly valuable today, about how a single phrase about gender can be so destructive.
8. “How to Reboot Your Brain,” Ellie Vamos- An absolutely beautiful poem that showcases just how strong a quieter and more measured delivery can be. The abundance of beautiful lines in here is staggering, and watching Vamos’s movements as she performs is incredible.
9. “Trailer,” Hazemy Fahmy- I was actually fortunate enough to watch this poem live, and it’s an absolute gem. It shows just how powerful a tool humor can be, especially when the shift from humorous to serious is abrupt and jarring. A meaningful message beautifully delivered in the perfect way.
10. “Albaquerque”- Another amazing duo poem with a great central conceit: responding to the complaints that there isn’t a white cultural center at the University of New Mexico. The delivery is strong all the way through, and bolstered by plenty of absolutely amazing lines.
If you guys have any slam poems that you really love, make sure to tell me about it in the comments!
With Excitement and Optimism,