So I went to the poetry slam this past Friday and the first announcer did that “ayyy repeat after me!” thing to get the crowd excited. He went “POETRY” and we went “SLAM” and he said “U” and we said “M” and it had the exact crowd-exciting effect he intended, except then for the rest of the night I somehow got the Space Jam theme stuck in my head, substituted with poetry slam-related lyrics. If you missed out on the 1996 classic starring Michael Jordan/Bugs Bunny, or just want a refresher (you do), here’s what went through my head on Friday night (replace “jam” with “slam” where applicable).
The actual performers, though, did an amazing job relieving me of the whole song-stuck-in-your-head-itis (though not gonna lie, I’m not sure how much I trust those who dislike that song). I went with my two housemates and none of the three of us had any preconceptions of the night – we knew there might be snaps involved but that was about it. The poets ranged from adults who perform weekly as part of the Ann Arbor Poetry Slam club to students during the open mic, who were competing for a spot on the UM team, to the final guest performer, T. Miller. We haven’t discussed poetry much in my gateway class, I guess just out of the nature of our projects, but I’d definitely like to learn more about the technical side of the style – there must be so many rhetorical methods behind the scenes used to turn strings of words into some of the affecting, creative pieces I heard on Friday. Then again, I get the sense that out of all forms of writing, poetry seems to be one of the least formulaic in terms of recognizing when it’s most powerful. I mean, you just know.
Advice for future Margot and anyone who feels a little uninspired: if you want to remember why you like writing and the power words have over pretty much anything, go to a poetry slam and/or listen to T. Miller. She’s ranked third in the country or something equally ridiculous and it’s pretty obvious why after hearing her perform. Not only were her words incredibly powerful but hearing someone’s writing delivered with exactly the tone they intend to convey, with no possibility of misinterpreting the reading, adds a whole other dimension I hadn’t thought about before. Hearing poetry delivered with such vulnerability and honesty reminded me how important it is we keep listening to each other’s stories and tell our own, not necessarily via poetry slams or even in writing, but just in daily life. I definitely wasn’t expecting to enjoy myself as much as I did on Friday (and my housemates said the same afterwards) and I believe there’s another slam on Nov. 14 🙂