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Some Easy-to-Follow Tips on How to Write Effective Slam Poetry

A poetry form that became popular in the 80s, slam poetry is all about expression of emotion through poetry for a cause. Here are some tips that tell you how to write slam poetry.
Puja Lalwani
Last Updated: Dec 09, 2017
Poetry has always been likened to the works of very famous poets such as Byron and Wordsworth. It is true that you have to be great with words and emotion to be a good poet. Nothing changes with slam poetry, except that it is a more explicit form of writing and recitation that reflects passion for a particular subject. It is also explicit in terms of imagery. At a poetry slam (competition), people recite original work which covers topics that they are passionate about. These topics may range from politics to love to drug abuse and to the environment. Any chosen member of the audience then judges the poetry and rates it on a scale of one to ten. Obviously, those with higher values win the competition.
The Elements of Slam Poetry
The elements of slam poetry are not largely different from the basic elements of other poetry styles. One of the prominent elements, as mentioned earlier, is the passion that resonates in it. Without this passion, which will also reflect in the way it is recited, poetry written for a poetry slam is of no use. It may be metaphorical in nature, in that it reflects the poet's ideology through a variety of means. On the other hand, it may also be direct. Though this poem does not seek the need for rhyme, having a certain rhythm that flows through it gives it a better quality. Any kind of poetry focuses on repetition, and because slam poetry is usually poetry with a cause, this element is central to its effectiveness. These are the elements that work to enhance the content of the poetry. The content has to strike a chord with the audience, and it is the job of the poet to write poetry that a majority of the audience can relate to.
Tips to Write Slam Poetry
To write effective slam poetry, follow these tips and keep practicing for best results.
  • Choose a good topic. The topic you choose to is one that you should deeply feel about. You can write a poem on the water problems across the world if you truly think your poetry will strike a chord. Alternately, you could also write a poem about how you think romance is overrated. Anything close to your heart can make it as a topic for slam poetry.
  • Just a good topic is not enough. Your passion for it should reflect in your poetry. The need for passion to show in the poetry cannot be repeated enough. If you choose a topic only because it is popular but don't feel strongly about it, the topic will do you no good.
  • Be clear about the point you are trying to make. When you choose a topic, you should be well aware about it, and should know exactly what you are trying to say through this poem. Write down these points before you try to put them in verse.
  • Let the rhythm flow. Once the points have been compiled, it's time to put them in verse and give the words a flow from one point to another.
  • Start writing in basic English. You don't have to force yourself to write heavy poetic words as soon as you write the first draft of your poem. Also, feel free to use slang or explicit imagery, but only if you think it is necessary. Try to stuff it in just because it is permissible and you will not be able to score any points with the audience.
  • Replace basic with more hard-hitting terms. This is where the metaphorical nature of poetry will do you good. For instance, 'lack of action' can be rephrased as 'nothing stirs these still waters'. Using such phrases adds depth to your poetry.
  • Add emotion to your poem. You've written your poem as best as you can, and now it's time to sprinkle into it the necessary emotion. Are you pleading for action or are you angry for the lack of it? Are you distressed by current affairs or wish to emphasize the need of the hour by eliciting a sense of urgency? With the right words will come the right emotions.
  • Read it out for yourself. Assume you are a member of the audience and read out the poem aloud. Does it stir you? Do you feel affected by it? Is it making the point clear to you? If you think you aren't confident enough and that your personal opinion could color your response to these questions, ask a friend to listen to the poem and give you an honest opinion. Only then will you be able to decide whether the poem needs re-working to be improved.
A slam poet has to be a good performer apart from being a good writer. No one reads slam poetry, it is always recited and heard. Use this aspect to your advantage and write the best poetry you can. Of course, practice will only make you perfect. Good luck!