Wham! Bam! Poetry Slam!
Caelin Miltko | Wednesday, March 19, 2014
Considered the revival of the performance aspect of poetry, slam poetry gives poets a chance to present their pieces vibrantly and actively and gives audience members the chance to engage in the performance.
A movement that started in the 1990s, slam poetry was generated as a mass of poetry meant to be spoken, not read. Thursday, members of the South Bend community will have the chance to witness and participate in this poetic movement.
Hosted by the University of Notre Dame Creative Writing Program, the Snite Museum of Art and the Spoken Word club of Notre Dame, the second annual “Wham! Bam! Poetry Slam!” will take place Thursday from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Contestants have been allowed to register since March 3, and the final group of 12 competitors will be chosen at the event. In addition, a group of judges will be randomly selected from the audience to provide each contestant with their score.
There will be two rounds of performances, and each poet has less than two minutes to present an original creation. They are not allowed props, costumes, musical accompaniment or memorization aids. They are, however, allowed to make use of a variety of oral and visual performance methods. Slam poets have been known to sing, dance and beatbox, and the presentation of their poetry is entirely up to them.
Competitors at the “Wham! Bam! Poetry Slam!” may come from the University of Notre Dame, St. Mary’s College or the South Bend community. All were encouraged to apply in order to provide a wide variety of perspectives in the poetry presented.
Slam poetry is known to deal with a wide variety of topics, from challenging an authority system to dealing with personal issues. One of the contestants last year presented her poem in the form of a letter to her 17-year-old self, and another competitor incorporated singing into his performance. The videos of these performances can be found on YouTube.
The form has been criticized for its submission to public opinion, as poets are forced to entertain the audience if they want to do well at the competition. At the same time, one of its goals has always been to open up poetry to public critique and engage the audience more fully in the art form.
Slam poetry is not your run-of-the-mill, strictly-structured poetry, intended to be read quietly in a classroom. The form intends to draw in the audience through whatever performance techniques poets feel are effective and use this to get their messages across.
Slam poets can be angry, calling out societal injustices dealing with racial, economic, and gender issues they see in the world.
The “Wham! Bam! Poetry Slam!” will have two masters of ceremonies: Peter Twal, a second-year MFA student in the Creative Writing Program, whose poetry has been published in various journals, and Marc Drake, the president of the Spoken Word club of Notre Dame.
Doors will open at 5 p.m., with the Slam officially starting at 5:15 p.m. Admission is free. The event is part of the Snite Museum’s Third Thursdays program.