Last week, our Grade 10 English students performed original spoken word poetry exclusively written for the Grade 10 Poetry Slam.
A Poetry Slam is a competition in which poets perform spoken word poetry. It originated 35 years ago in Chicago when American poet Marc Smith began experimenting with existing open microphone venues for poetry readings in front of live audiences. Each Poetry Slam performance is limited in time and judged by a panel of selected judges or by overall audience response.
In their Grade 10 English classes, ICS students are introduced to the fascinating world of spoken word poetry. They explore a variety of Slam performance poems and analyse the conventions and techniques employed of the genre. Their teachers then encourage them to write about experiences that have influenced them or topics they feel passionate about. Ultimately, the students demonstrate their knowledge and understanding of the genre by completing their own spoken word poems and performing them at the annual Grade 10 Poetry Slam.
Our Grade 10 students shared poems about a wide range of themes with their classmates and teachers in this year’s Slam. There were quiet, almost reverent, poems reflecting the beginnings or the end of close relationships, critical responses to controversial issues that keep generations and cultures apart, and some very pointed observations about what being young and just starting out in life means.
"Slam poetry is a style of poetry that’s composed for the purpose of being performed in front of a live audience and in a competitive arena,” Mark Smith is quoted as saying. For most of the Grade 10 slam poets, standing before an audience of their peers, no matter how encouraging and supportive their classmates were, was a huge step. At the Grade 10 Poetry Slam last week, the students met the challenge successfully and their performances were rewarded with resounding applause and enthusiastic cheers from their friends and teachers.