A slam-champion is the term given to the winner of the National Slam Poetry competition as well as other Slam Poetry competitions such as the SLAMbassadors which is the national youth slam poetry competition for 12-18 year olds in the United Kingdom.
So what is slam poetry? It’s is a type of competition where people read their poems without props, costumes, or music. After performing, they receive scores (0-10) from 5 randomly selected judges. The judges can be anyone; they aren’t necessarily poets themselves. Scores are awarded based on how much each judge likes a poem.
Slam Poems are most commonly used to address serious matters in an effective, hard hitting manner. Examples of topics covered include the US presidential election, feminism, mental illness and relationships.
Here’s a great example: ‘Song of the Pretty Bird’ By Shay Alexi Stewart “ I've lived 20 pretty bird years Of this great big pretty bird life And I think I pretty pretty pretty bird bird pretty much know what I’m talking about People like to poke fun at my pretty bird pretty preening At my pretty pretty bird pretty feathers But look at my long clean coat At my pretty pretty bird pretty pink legs When pigeon men track me cross sky highway they are happy to trace hungry orange eyes between my pretty pretty bird bird feathers To busy fantasizing pretty bird Wet dreams swollen chest fluff fest To pretty poke bird fun To pretty poke fun bird To pretty bird bird pretty bird bird pretty pretty pretty Too busy fantasizing to poke fun at permanently preening pretty bird My vanity is insanity unless it helps get you off What a treat hosting eyes between my thighs They will spend equal time begging to share bed with me Condemning mediocrity How does one achieve complexity when all she was ever taught to be was basic Pigeon man wants pretty bird to pretty bird Until pretty bird fulfils ideas of prettiness Then she’s too pretty pretty bird bird paralyzing and preened
Look at my long clean coat At my pretty pretty bid pretty pink legs Track me cross sky highway Take a picture I beg you Take a picture pretty bird pretty bird My left side is my best side I have a best side I have a better half I am a half
Pretty cus they want a pretty bird bird I grew up on a diet of bread crumbs catalogue clippings and sidewalk cracks How do you expect anything else Pretty sure I know what I’m talking about
Pretty sure pretty sure Maybe not Sorry sorry sorry sorry Can I ask a question Sorry sorry May I may I
Pretty bird used to sing Baby bird used to sing Baby bird was pretty bird before pretty bird learned to pretty And baby bird could compose whole symphonies Acute intricacies melodies capturing voices poetry But the reviews came in and they preferred apology So she shrank learned to make herself small enough to nearly fit back in her eggshell to tip toe atop eggshells
expanded flight just long enough for pigeon men to track her cross sky highway but still she sang too loud so they caged her up for her pretty pretty bird bird long clean coat for her pretty pretty bird pretty pink legs and they said sing pretty lady sing but I forgot how
so I said pretty pretty bird bird look at my long clean coat at my pretty pretty bird pretty pink legs but they were bored of me. “
This poem is about the effects of eating disorders and body dysmorphia. Therefore it brilliantly demonstrates the sorts of topics approached in this form of poetry.
The British teens slam poetry competition runs all year and is judged at the end of the year; winners can receive two day workshops with established, famous, spoken word artists. I encourage you to watch some of this year’s entries via the SLAMbassadors website. Perhaps have a go at writing one yourself and enter it next year, or just have fun with your friends and family as you write it. Slam poems can be as serious or as silly as you wish.
If this has grabbed your interest, and I sure hope it has, search SLAMbassadors on Google.