12 of the Best Slam Poetry Performances to Leave You in Awe

You might be interested in hearing more about the example of poetry performance. Have you ever questioned the poet’s intended message?

example of poetry performance

A wide range of genres and styles are included under the umbrella of performance poetry.

Performance poetry produced with the intention of being performed.

In most cases, poets participate in this event by delivering stunning spoken word performances in front of a live audience and a jury.

The phrase became widely used in the 1980s to refer to poetry that was mostly open to improvisation and produced or created for performance rather than print publication.

An artistic competition known as a poetry slam features spoken word poetry performances by competitors in front of an actual audience and judges.

Even though the styles might change, slams frequently feature audience engagement, applause, and theatrical delivery.

American poet Marc Smith started experimenting by going to open-mic poetry readings and turned them into slams by adding the element of competition since he thought the poetry scene at the time was too regimented and boring.

He thought a poetry slam should be accessible to anybody who wanted to take part.

A poetry slam allows poets to compete individually or in teams.

Performances are assessed on passion, style, and content equally.

Usually composed of five judges chosen from the crowd, judgment is frequently done by a panel of judges. The audience’s reaction can be used to assess a poet at times.

With minor modifications, Marc’s original poetry slam structure is still used.

The art form is becoming more and more well-liked in the United States, Europe, Canada, and Japan.

Slams allow you to enjoy the rich celebration of poetry from the comfort of your own home.

Poetry slams can include a wide variety of writing and performing styles, voices, and cultural traditions.

Hedwig Gorski, the founder of performance poetry, attributes slam poetry with continuing the poetics of old oral poetry written to draw attention in public places like bars and squares.

Both the poet and the audience may find it emotional and therapeutic to witness a poet recite their own work.

The top slam poetry competitions have been hand-selected, therefore I urge you to attend or take part in them and experience everything they have to offer.

1. Branden Wellington: The Truth About America in 4 Minutes

America In 4 Minutes, the social, political, and daily aspects of American life are highlighted.

The main goal is to uplift and encourage people while highlighting the value of being thankful and patriotic across the world.

I hope this poem may inspire someone to realize how lucky and grateful we really are.

Excerpt:

”Of the people, By the people, For the people
Those are words that we put in our nation’s creed
But only right here in America do we feed foreign countries
while some starve on our streets

Only right here, at age eighteen, can you qualify to die in a war with bombs and guns
But you can’t have your first bottle of rum if until you turn twenty-one…

This is America, Home of the Brave
Home of the wealthy, rich, home of the paid

It’s also home of the homeless, the hurt, the deceived and
Home of natural disasters that left families in need

Some say, that this is the home of hatred and the home of greed
But in Philadelphia, there’s “The City of Brotherly Love” and
America is home of the highly achieved

This place…this nation.. it’s home of the children with a bright future
It’s also home of videogames that could teach those same kids
to be carjackers and shooters

Robbers, mobsters, gangsters, or murderers
This is our America and the whole free world has heard of us

We’re home of the proud, and we’re home of a lot of inventions
Sad to say, we are also home of babies that are born with a cocaine addiction

This is home of “The Red, The White, and The Blue”
Where at times you seem to be hated by many and loved by few

It’s home of the green grass, the blue shutters
and the white picket fence that we talk about
It’s also home of people with bad credit
that can’t afford the American dream house
In our America, a vast majority of us go into debt
Because we go to work, we get our checks, we spend what’s left
Because in American school systems most aren’t taught how to properly invest.”

2. In My Skin by Sha’condria ”Icon” Sibley

Nobody’s view is more accurate than anybody else’s when it comes to how to wear or not use makeup.

In actuality, the nicest thing about beauty is that it is wholly individual.

Excerpt:

“This is a poem for every poem that uses cliché wordplay and metaphors
to conceal a disgust for makeup under the mask of empowerment.
You know the queen-you-don’t-need-makeup-to-make-up-for-something-you-are-lacking poems.
That are as overdone as YouTube eyebrow tutorials.
I hear you.

But your preference for natural beauty hasn’t been there on the days I’ve been brave enough to face the world bare-faced
and you forced your stares, comments and recommendations into my already irritated skin.
It has not been there on days when no matter what I tried, acne and eczema were still hell bent on leaving their mark.

This is not vanity, it is survival.
It is the only way I can avoid the smudges of your jokes smudge off on the collar of my self-esteem.”

3. Alex Dang: What Kind of Asian are You?

Dang, which was performed in Portland, Oregon, for the 2013 US National Poetry Slam, draws attention to the subtle racism practised by persons who pretend to be innocent and mistake the ethnicities of others.

He provides an example of how racial animosities sabotage potential.

Excerpt:

So he said to me: ‘What kind of Asian are you? ‘
And I said back: Well that’s a loaded question, what do you expect me to be?
Because any way slice that egg-roll I’m still pretty much what you want to see
I’ve played many a far east stereotype
Awkward math genius
Cold and calculated Kung-Fu expert
Assistant to ‘Dr Jones, you crazy! ‘
You want me to drive, how so?
I can give you Tokyo drift, Jeremy Lin, Mario Kart, Tiger woods and…
Blinker left on for almost half a mile
I am the foremost expert on all things Asian
The Meiji Era and the ban of the Samurai? Done.
Confucianism versus Daoism? I’ll give it to you with no slant.
What’s the difference between Asian cereal type one and two?
Well, let me tell you,
let me tell you everything you want to know about my culture
let me tell you in a Mulan-esque soliloquy staring at the mirror asking:
‘Who is that girl that I see! ‘
Let me tell you about Jackie Chan and about Bruce Lee,
and about how they’re related-by blood- to me
Let me tell you about being so marginalized, it’s to the point of ‘I really can’t believe that’s Asian.

4. ”Principles” by Danez Smith

Excerpt:

”All lives don’t matter
the same as all lives

Some lives matter
only to themselves

Some lives matter
only they hood

Some lives matter
of fact & some lives
up for debate

All lives matter
to someone

But what about
This life of mine?

Honey colored
& black as it is?

what does my life mean to you?
Am i talking to you?
Do you wish me justice
Or do you wish I would just
Shut up already, vanish already?”

5. Shane Koyczan: We are More

At the 2010 Winter Olympics opening ceremony in Vancouver, Koyczan gave this performance as a greeting to the international audience and a rebuttal to generalizations about America’s northern neighbor.

Excerpt:

”When defining Canada, you might list some statistics,You might mention our tallest building, or biggest lake. You might shake a tree in the fall and call it a red-leaf Canada. You might rattle off some celebrities, might mention Buffy Sainte-Marie. Might even mention the fact that we’ve got a few Barenaked Ladies, or that we made these crazy things like zippers, electric cars, and washing machines. When defining Canada it seems the world’s anthem has been. “been there done that”, and maybe that’s where we used to be at, It’s true. We’ve done and we’ve been. We’ve seen

All the great themes get swallowed up by the machine, and turned into theme parks. But when defining Canada don’t forget to mention that we have set sparks, We are not just fishing stories about the one that got away, We do more than sit around and say “eh?”. And yes, we are the home of the Rocket and the Great One. Who inspired little number nines, and little number ninety-nines

But we’re more than just hockey and fishing lines off of the rocky coast of the Maritimes.And some say what defines us is something as simple as please and thank you, And as for you’re welcome, well we say that too”

6. ”The Period Poem” by Dominique Christina

Excerpt:

The feminist political part is that women know how to let things go, how to let a dying thing leave the body, how to become new, how to regenerate, how to wax and wane, not unlike the moon and tides, both of which influence how you behave, I digress.

Women have vaginas that can speak to each other and by this I mean, when we’re with our friends, our sisters, our mothers, our menstrual cycles will actually sync the fuck up. My own cervix is mad influential, everybody I love knows how to bleed with me. Hold on to that, there’s a metaphor in it.

Hold on to that. But when your mother carried you, the ocean in her belly is what made you buoyant, made you possible. You had it under your tongue when you burst through her skin, wet and panting from the heat of her body, the body whose machinery you now mock on social media, that body, wrapped you in everything that was miraculous about, and then sung you lullabies laced in platelets, without which you wouldn’t have no Twitter account at all motherfucker. I digress.

7. “Fight for Love” by Andrea Gibson

Excerpt:

Please run over the mailbox. If that keeps me looking for new ways to send my best self to you, I am so in love with who we are, who we have been fighting to become together. I can’t believe I finally adore a human as much as I adore my dog, even when I’m in the doghouse. I’m like, “No, you look like my dog so much.”

Thank you for telling me there’s no need to open our relationship because being with me is already like being with 50 impossible people. Thank you for accepting my friend request for the third time this year.

Thank you for screaming your way home from that straight bar to the bed where our bodies made up to the full moon, through to the window, and the firefly poured into the room. And the firefly landed in your hand, which you opened like a ring box, and asked me to marry you. And we were so new. I blushed instead, but answered, “Fireflight is forever. And you know what my answer is.”

8. Terisa Siagatonu and Rudy Francisco: Sons

This poem addresses the ineffective answers to the rape culture in the US and was read during the 2013 National Poetry Slam semi-finals in Los Angeles.

Siagatonu and Francisco’s allusions to the Steubenville rape case from 2012 are particularly heartbreaking.

Excerpt:

Rudy:
If I’ve learned anything about being a man,
It is that being a father is designed to be a contact sport
and far too many of us retire before we even see what the field looks like.

Terisa:
If I’ve learned anything about being a woman,
it’s that no matter how empowering I seem
My existence was designed to never stand a chance.

Both:
When the state of Ohio found two sixteen year old boys guilty of raping a sixteen year old girl,

Terisa:
Both boys cried their eyes out moments after the verdict

Rudy:
Every major media news outlet coddled them
instead of the girl they raped.

Terisa:
CNN was grieving over the death of their futures in football.

9. Adrenaline Rush by Rudy Francisco

Excerpt:

“Once, a friend of a friend asked me
why there aren’t more black people in the X Games
and I said, ‘You don’t get it.’

Being black is one of the most extreme sports in America.
We don’t need to invent new ways of risking our lives
because the old ones have been working for decades.”

10. ”Why are Muslims So” by Sakila and Hawa

“No graffiti artist is going to tell me to go home
No Call of Duty player is going to threaten me
No overprotective bigot of a mother is gonna ruin my day
No ignorant bystander is gonna leave me feeling left out
No tumblr post is gonna scare me away
And no biased border patrol is gonna stop me from seeing my family

Because today is one of the holiest day of the year
And instead of spending time with my family,
I’m up on stage defending my family.”

11. “Mama” by Emi Mahmoud

Excerpt:

“I’m not saying dating is a first-world problem, but these trifling motherfuckers seem to be.
The kind who’ll quote Rumi, but not know what he sacrificed for war.
Who’ll fawn over Lupita, but turn their racial filters on.
Who’ll take their politics with a latte when I take mine with tear gas.

Every guy I meet wants to be my introduction to the dark side,
Wants me to open up this obsidian skin and let them read every tearful page,
Because what survivor hasn’t had her struggle made spectacle?
Don’t talk about the motherland unless you know that being from Africa
means waking up an afterthought in this country.

Don’t talk about my flavor unless you know that
My flavor is insurrection, it is rebellion, resistance
My flavor is mutiny
It is burden, it is grit and it is compromise
And you don’t know compromise until you’ve rebuilt your home for the third time
Without bricks, without mortar, without any other option”

12. Translated Disney by Diksha Bijlani

Excerpt:

“I am a descendant of a family of multilingual folk
who are synonymous to non-English speaking.
Who sent me to English school so I could be better than them,
Because speaking English in India is status
English in India is, ‘Look, I have a verbal Mercedes!’
English in India is sucking up to the colonialists,
but forgetting they left a long time ago.
The first time I dated a white guy,
I would sometimes let words from my native language
slip into a text out of reflex,
and he’d dismiss them as typos.”

How to Find the Top Poetry Slams Event

Here are some places to look for the greatest slam poetry in your area.

  • Poets.org: If you’re interested in poetry readings, seminars, or slam poetry events.
  • Eventbrite: By using Eventbrite, you can locate events near you.
  • Brave New Voices: This is a global poetry slam tournament. To sign up as a participant or to express your love and support for all the courageous new voices from the audience, visit their website.

If you enjoy reading poetry and thought-provoking novels, visit our website for additional information about the finest poetry.

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