Poems on Poems on Poems: An Intro to Slam Poetry

Oh gosh, let's talk about a post that's been marinating with me for a while now. I've posted about it occasionally on here, but it's a damn shame I haven't yet talked about my obsession with slam poetry. I first got into it first semester of my freshman year and have been dipping in and out of the group ever since. This semester, I finally got serious and started slamming myself. Kids, it's hard. Like real real hard. To be anywhere close to a "professional" poet, you have to bleed on-page and onstage...almost literally. 

My biggest problem as a writer is usually lack of inspiration and I always turn to watching slam videos online to renew my vigor. Button Poetry is this wonderful organization that has magic elves at every poetry event and sets out to put it all online. All of the video content is theirs and it's great. Click through to see some of my favorite works of art.

Well, I wanted to start with something a little funny and ridiculous. Neil Hilborn has a vast array of stuff up on Button Poetry (the also incredible OCD and One Color, to name a couple), but I got to see this one in person, so it's extra special. Great "gateway poem" if you aren't familiar with slam poetry.

Rachel Wiley is one of those people that seems to just get onstage and talk to you. It's animated enough to not seem like an overly simple performance, but plain enough for someone to just listen to the words and feel feelings. (Can you tell I'm a poet?)

Rachel and I have a unique history - I was her roommate at writing sleepaway camp when we were fifteen. I saw her on Tumblr and was still Facebook friends with her, and we ended up getting to see each other at the National Poetry Slam when she was here! Something about a small world. Anyway, I love how charged this poem is (one of the many reasons it went viral) and she drives the point home like no other. 

So many people try to verbalize the problems with the concept of the "friend zone." So many. And at least 98% of them are done poorly, for a variety of reasons. Dylan Garrity is one of my all-time favorite poets and he finally manages to inspect every issue while also being, you know, poetic.

I got to see the semifinal stage of CUPSI, and Javon Johnson captured my heart with everything he said. I didn't get to hear this one live, but I'm so glad that some of his stuff is online. It's eloquently phrased, to the point, all while being inspiring and heartbreaking at the same time.

Lee's work was something I stumbled across while systematically watching every video on Button while perusing the site, and it's one of those poems that sticks with you for weeks after watching it. I can't seem to get it out of my head when trying to write my own work and I'm stoked about that.

Nguyen is one of my all time favorites to go to for inspiration. I had to choose this one, but Buffet Etiquette is also an excellent watch. Much like Wiley, he has a performance style that I'm forever trying to replicate with writing talent that I know I'll never have. 

I had to pop Bobby on here - he's currently the leader of our poetry group at school and talking to this kid is like chatting with a freight train. I love it. He has this one poem, about baseball and pop punk...let's just not talk about it, cause I'll probably start crying. Anyway, this guy is close to my heart and deserves all kinds of listens. (You can also see him performing a group piece with this other total nerd right over here.)

Whew. Yeah. And this was literally the bare minimum I could cut it to. I hope you had a few favorites (and didn't cry toooooo much...) and enjoyed what you saw. 
Also! I really want you guys to support Button - you can follow them on Tumblr, which posts new poems all the time, or order the book Viral, which has all of the poems that got over 200k views (about half this list) on page, as well as new work from each author. Go do the things!

Did you have a favorite poem? Are you into slam poetry?

**also: have you taken my readers survey yet? I'd love to have your input!!!

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