Fall In Love With the Slam

I’ll admit it, when I first heard about “Slam Poetry,” I scoffed. What had my generation come up with now, I thought? When I asked for a description of the art, I heard the words “rap,” “spoken word” and other similar vague things and was further confused. It took until I was seated in Austin’s Spider House Cafe at their weekly Poetry Slam and listened to Sierra DeMulder’s starting words “I would never speak to a child the way I speak to myself” (see picture) for my arrogant ignorance of slam poetry to dissolve and my immense appreciation for the art to blossom.

When in desperate need to explain “slam poetry” in under two minutes, I say, “you know how sometimes you write something when you’re really emotional, and you need to share it with someone, but it’s not enough for them to just read it on a slip of paper? You need to say it out loud, read it out loud, so they can hear every which way the words rise and fall, so they can hear every pause you intended to exist and see every hand gesture you made when reading it back to yourself? That’s slam poetry.” And, it is. But, it’s also so much more than that.

A poetry slam is the baby of a group therapy session and a stunning performance. It is as if you go around the circle and each person introduces themselves and discusses their progress and struggles, but instead of tears or awkward rambling, it’s captivating — the word choice is remarkable, the tempo is intentional, the vulnerability and effort it takes to perform a piece in front of an audience lends itself to a deep, unique sense of empathy.

Slam poetry is for everyone, because all sorts of people do it. Emotions do not exist in one specific group of people, it is human nature, and slam poetry is the result of emotion. Whether you’re a crier, a laugher, a lover of vulgarity, a victim of abuse or anything else a person can be, you will be able to find a piece of slam poetry that you resonate with.


  1. vianthfraser says:

    Sierra Demulder is just so much wonderful I can’t even find enough words to describe her ♥ This article explains slam poetry pretty well, but going to an actual poetry slam is really the best way to understand (:

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