“So what is this ‘poetry slam’ thing?” I hear you all asking. Well … it’s a bit of a gimmick I guess. It’s kind of like ‘X-Factor’ but with poetry instead of singing. It was invented by Marc Smith in Chicago in the eighties and has become very popular all over the world since then.
I got involved in the Midlands poetry slam scene in 2003 and I’ve lost many more than I’ve won, though it has given me a marvellous gateway into schools and working with young people in a way that they don’t expect with poetry and its performance.
For me, poetry starts at ‘the page’ and then progresses to ‘the stage’. I believe that this adds another level of appeal for young people. Reading or performing a poem out loud brings the work alive and for young people, it relates their work to other artistic genres like music and rap. Frankly, whatever gets young people reading, writing and appreciating any form of poetry is great by me!