I’m not usually a poetry person. And after an incident with TS Eliot nearly had me failing year twelve English – poetry isn’t something I like to indulge in.
So why did I spend a gorgeous Saturday afternoon in a classroom off a library full of slam poets? Because I was literary-ly inspired by the book Slammed by Colleen Hoover.
Literary-ly Inspired is a new feature on my blog.
Have you ever read something in a book and wanted to try something new because of it? Either it’s going some place or cooking something. Even taking a class because a book aroused your curiosity. That happens to me all the time! And I thought it was about time that I stopped saying how cool it would be to broaden my horizons and just started doing it! It doesn’t have to be something big. And – like my post today – it doesn’t have to be all that connected to a book. It just has to be something that is different from your regular everyday life that you would not have done had you not been inspired by something literary.
How Slammed by Colleen Hoover inspired me to attend a Queensland Poetry Slam Heat
Earlier this year I read Slammed by Colleen Hoover (you can read my review here) and I loved it. But more than that – I was intrigued by the Slam Poetry element. Such passion, such feeling. So despite my reservations regarding poetry, I got online and investigated. I found that there is a reasonably active slam poetry scene in my state with workshops and many of the heats for the state competition being free! Click here to check out the Australian Poetry Slam website.
So last Saturday I decided that it was time to try and immerse myself in the world that is slam poetry.
What is Slam Poetry?
To put it simply – Slam Poetry is the art of competitive poetry. The only rule is there are no rules… you know. Except for the rules.
For the slam heat I watched every participant would get two minutes to get up front and put on their performance. And audience participation is encouraged. Five judges were selected at random from the audience of non-participating spectators and got to have their very own Slam names – my personal favourite was Vespatina. Although Birdy, Pythagoras and the Bubonic Plague were brilliant names too. Each participant performing gives a score between negative infinity and ten with the top and bottom scores being omitted. Oh and my favourite rule – each first time slammer gets three hugs.
After the very enthusiastic Benedict started things off and someone was selected to be “the sacrifice” the slam was up and running.
And to tell you the truth – it wasn’t what I was expecting. To be entirely honest – and I admit that yes, I was relying on stereotypes – I was expecting the modern-day equivalent to beatniks – the hipster. But I couldn’t have been more wrong. The nineteen slammers came from all walks of life. There were grandmothers and grandfathers. Bush poets and people who had never written a poem before. Poets who walked the stage and those who delivered their performance from a fixed microphone. One poet even started singing. Some performances were serious, others romantic. A few about cancer and one about the gods. There’s so much variety!
There is no right or wrong way to slam.
Before going, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. I couldn’t quite perceive the whole idea that whilst everyone was being scored that points were not all that important.
But I think I get it now. Slamming isn’t about winning – the two that won the heat and are going through to the next round both seemed rather surprised and a little taken aback. It’s about wanting a place to express yourself. To challenge yourself into stepping outside your comfort zone and doing something you wouldn’t ordinarily do.
After things got started – there was a certain vibe in the air. We may have not been in a dark atmospheric bar like surroundings like Lake and Will – but there was a lot of energy in the air and it was impossible not to get swept up in the excitement. I found myself really getting into it all. It was a lot of fun and I didn’t expect that.
I’m so glad that I went. Will I go again? It’s a highly likely possibility. Will I perform? I think that’s still fairly unlikely but not an outright no. I’m incredibly shy in situations like that and I’m not sure writing poetry is something I’m quite up to but I think I get the whole idea and feeling that Colleen Hoover wrote about in Slammed.