Slam poetry is a general term used to refer to poems performed at slams or what we can simply call, spoken word competitions. Contrary to some opinions, this is not a new concept. It has always existed since the day of Vikings, ancient Philippines and even tribes of ancient Africa.
However, what we now know as slam poetry was modernized in 1984 by a man named Marc Kelly Smith and his cohorts in Chicago when they had weekly poetry reading series and one day they decided to have a competition to see who the crowd thought was the best, and that became what we know today as “Slam Poetry.”
How Does Slam Poetry Work?
How it works today is that it is typically three rounds, and judges are selected at random. You could have the most extreme veteran poet with years of experience in spoken word poetry and some random guy from a bar across the street sit as judges.
In each round, Poets are judged out of 10 points, the top 4 poets with the most points proceed to round two, and the final poets go into the third round and whoever comes out with the most points reigns supreme.
However, a popular mantra is used in all slams across the world that states that; “the points are not the point, the point is the poetry.”
So if you are new to poetry or would like to brainstorm slam poetry ideas, this would be a good place to start.
Keep reading for more information on this.
Slam Poetry Ideas
Note that these topics are not necessarily new ideas but what matters is that we can gain new perspectives from how we choose to see the world, the experiences encountered, lessons learned, progress made and wisdom gain. Feel free to use these poetry ideas in your contexts and regard.
Racism is a real global issue that needs to be constantly addressed in our modern society. It’s one of those topics that touch our core as humans and how we see and perceive others.
2. Emotional health
From time to time, life throws its challenges and contrary winds, affecting people on a global scale. It would not be bad to speak out your opinions on this and offer practical guidance from your own experiences.
3. Equality vs. Equity
Not everyone is equal but can everyone be treated equally? Lend your voice to this, which can be a good slam topic to work with and organize.
4. Teenage pregnancy
Teenage pregnancy is a major concern in our society today; we could safely say that addressing this issue will lead to a lot of impact on the girl child to push the limits that society has placed on them and realize their full potential human beings.
5. Human Rights
Human rights are currently and have for some time been a global issue in the world today. It is one issue to be addressed and implemented properly to ensure advancement. Slam Poetry can help champion this cause.
6. Domestic violence
Domestic violence seems to be on the increase yearly.
And it has a lasting and damaging effect.
7. Child trafficking
Globally, homeless children are sold out to modern slavers for prostitution, drug trafficking and several unhealthy vices. You can help draw attention to this in your next slam poetry.
8. Drug abuse
Drug abuse haunts a lot of individuals, especially the youth. It’s something worth talking about.
How do you choose to address this? Is it worth talking about to you? Could we raise more awareness on this? Are there lessons to learn from the lives of the homeless and poor (good or bad) that we can choose to emulate or avoid?
Money makes the world go round is a fact of life. How you choose to shed light on this fact would help a great deal. Your audience also; Are they parents? The poor? Greedy? Each class brings about a new way of seeing this and addressing money issues in this life.
11. Freedom of speech
To be heard and to what degree varies from place to place and nation to nation and culture to culture. Hence do you think that this should be so? What are your good reasons for supporting freedom of speech? Would your perspectives apply to all peoples and cultures?
It’s not uncommon for people to get mugged nowadays. All thanks to gangs and cult groups in cities, villages and sadly, schools and campuses. So, how about you feature this in your next slam poetry?
Protests are a sign of dissatisfaction or unrest, intending to be heard. Slam poetry is also driven towards that goal.
14. Social media
Do you see social media as a blessing or a curse? That’s entirely up to you and how you choose to use it. This thought should be on your mind when you pick this topic for your next slam poetry.
15. Fake news and the media
Fake news is becoming a real issue of the 21st Century. Mass media over digital mediums are now subject to misinformation, misrepresentation and public defamation. And also, what is worse is that it becomes even more difficult to hold someone accountable for this. The internet has made false news spread like wildfire. Proper education and enlightenment is needed to curb this menace
You may not agree with an afterlife cycle of judgment, but you would easily agree with me that what we do does matter in the grand scheme of things. In your next slam poetry, it won’t be so bad to let people express what karma means to them, and this would make for an interesting discussion.
Most young people are troubled by this term, largely due to a lack of guidance and mentorship. This subject would be an effective slam at graduation/convocation ceremonies. Ensure that your thoughts are obtainable, full of possibilities and optimism.
Matters of the heart are often perplexing: we know what to do but don’t do it. For example, we know to forgive, but in practical terms, it’s almost impossible. Hence revisiting such matters in themselves never gets old; it’s a major issue in people’s personal lives and is always open to new or effective ideas to navigate its vengeful waters.
Losing a loved one to death is an entirely different experience in itself. It’s never fun, and almost something one may not recover from. How would your words act as a haven for someone in grief? Let this be the focus when working on this topic for your next slam.
20. Overcoming fears
Fear of the unknown paralyzes a whole lot of potential in us as humans. What if it was OK to do things despite whatever fears we may have? Many great achievements came about this way. What twist would you give this topic in your next slam?
It is almost impossible to exhaust every idea on this list for a greatslam poetry but keep in mind that this list is only to help get you started and interested. Slam poetry is built on anything. All you need to do is look around you.
Slam Poetry brings the poetry community together, and it drives us to make our pen games sharper and more exciting; it is absolutely fun! Especially when you are on the winning side.
So, check it out, participate, spectate, perform, judge, compete, and remember, “The points are not the point, the point is the poetry.”