Poetry Slam Learning Resources - PDF - 8 pages - Scottish Book Trust

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Poetry Slam Learning Resources - PDF - 8 pages - Scottish Book Trust

LEARNING RESOURCES

THIRD LEVEL

FOURTH LEVEL

SENIOR PHASE

Poetry Slam Learning Resources

Resource created by Anita Govan


Contents

2 A quick guide to Slam poetry

3 Ten things to consider

4 Make a poetry Slam part of your curriculum

6 Ten top tips for Slam poetry

A quick guide to Slam poetry

The word ‘SLAM’ is just another word for competition. The poet must write

and perform their own work. The poem is timed (2-3mins) and scored

by/with audience input.

Slams began in the United States with Marc Smith, a factory worker from

Chicago who ran poetry readings in the Greenmill in 1980s. Marc wanted

to get the audience more involved, so he asked the audience to score the

poets. Slams made poets think much more about their audience –

audiences loved it.

The Slam idea quickly spread from Chicago to New York where Bob

Holman took it to the Nuyorican Poets Cafe (the home of performance

poetry). There it quickly took off and spread across the USA.

Now there are hundreds of regular slams run in schools, clubs, bars, pubs,

theatres and festivals all over the world, with slammers pitting their skills

against each other. ConFAB (Scotland) has the longest running School

Slams in the UK. You can view these on YouTube:

www.youtube.com/watchv=RfXL5_ZYm1E

It is a very open form and anyone can put on a slam. They are run in many

different ways but the general rules are the same.

Marc Smith says: ‘If the competition takes over the poetry, then the poetry

has lost.’

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Ten things to consider

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Slam is a term used to describe a competition of performance poetry.

This goes in rounds of rubrics like 8-4-2 to the winner and is judged by

the audience (traditionally) giving scores out of ten, e.g., 8.3, 9.2 or out

of a hundred, e.g., 83/93. Often limits are imposed, like 2-3 minutes or

one poem each round. This means that you must have more than one

poem prepared.

It is called Slam poetry because it is written with Slam competition in

mind. However you can be a fantastic performance poet but never win

a slam. This is more to do with the time limits, subject matter and the

ear and experience of the slam audience. However, don’t lose sight

that in the end it’s all just poetry. This is why the mantra, “the best poet

never wins” is advised by Marc Smith founder of Slam.

It might be best to keep Slams internal to the group until your group is

confident and comfortable before you put them up against other

groups or in front of an audience. It’s about building up confidence in

their words, thoughts and ideas. I would suggest that you don’t put on

a Slam to an audience in the school who has NOT gone through the

same process of the performers on stage.

It is important that IF you run a Poetry Slam for young people that you

make it as fun as possible. Do not focus too much on the competition:

say, “This is JUST for fun.” It can be a very scary thing to perform your

own words and thoughts to an audience of your peers: even adults

find this hard!

It is important when scoring a slam that you are generous with the

score. Never give out zero: keep scores high. They deserve good

points just for getting up. Remember the aim is to encourage. Keep it

positive. Ban booing: it’s easy to be critical, but it’s a lot harder to get

up there and do it.

Slam or performance poetry is not written for the page but for the stage

and it must be remembered the audience is only going to hear the poem

once. Metaphor can work well here but sophisticated and subtle

wordplay, which works on the page, might go unnoticed by an audience.

Remember that there are no real rules in poetry and the creative

writing of a poem is very different to the analysis of a poem. Creative

writing is more about reflecting expressing the internal self and the

world that surrounds the internal self. So encourage them to write

about what they know.

Never force anybody to perform their poem if they are not ready to do

so. Let them sit it out and encourage them again next time. They have

to learn to choose themselves. Slam needs an audience too: the more

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they see the more they will learn

Take the focus off the spelling and grammar and put the focus on

performance. It’s more important that they read out loud to

themselves: this allows them to hear the rhythm and rhyme.

It’s also best not too focus too much on who wins, even if they are

very good. If you choose to give out prizes, make sure they are not

grand but more encouraging or maybe very silly to emphasize that it’s

just for fun!

CfE

Make a poetry Slam part of your curriculum

EXPLORE A TEXT

You can examine different character viewpoints and voices using a poetry

slam, focusing on points in a text where characters are in conflict. For

instance, the differing viewpoints of the two doctors in Flowers for

Algernon could be explored by different teams in a poetry slam.

You could even convey one character’s dilemma by using two different

poems, representing the conflicting voices in a character’s head: for

example, Hamlet’s internal conflict over whether or not to kill Claudius

could be conveyed using a poetry slam.

Eng 3-19a

Lit 3-06a

Lit 3-25a

Lit 3-15a

Eng 3-31a

HWB 3-14a

EXPLORE AN ISSUE

A poetry slam is a great way to explore pupils’ ideas about different

viewpoints on a moral or social issue. If your school is focusing on racism,

environmental issues or any other controversial topic, a poetry slam could

be an ideal opportunity for pupils to explore different sides of the argument

and convey viewpoints through poetry.

Lit 3-02a

Lit 3-03a

Lit 3-01a

Lit 3-09a

HWB 3-14a

HWB 3-13a

CREATE A DIGITAL STORY TO GO WITH YOUR PUPILS’ POEMS

You could ask pupils to create a digital story to go with their poems, which

will really test their critical thinking!

A digital story is a series of images, videos or text (or a combination of all

these) which conveys a narrative. A good place to start in digital

storytelling is our Booktrailer Masterclass videos. In particular, Lesson 3

and 4 will tell you where to go looking for images, sounds and videos, and

also how to use simple editing tools. You can find the videos here:

www.scottishbooktrust.com/learning/cpd/toolkits/booktrailer-masterclass

Tch 3-03a

Tch 3-04a

HWB 3-14a

Eng 3-31a

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A NOTE ON CFE OUTCOMES

The outcomes listed for each activity above are not definitive. Depending

on how you choose to implement the ideas in your school, you may find

that you achieve other outcomes. You may also find that you do not

achieve all the outcomes listed above. The outcomes are mostly applicable

to Level 4 and the senior phase as well as Level 3. The ideas are designed

so you can put your own stamp on them – see where they take you!

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Ten top tips for Slam poetry

1) WRITE & PERFORM YOUR OWN POEM

This is the only rule of slam poetry

You can be funny, serious or just downright silly but it must be yours.

2) BE BRAVE

This is your right to speak

It’s your chance to say how you feel about the world around you.

3) START WITH THE WORDS

And the rest will follow

Start with a list. Trust yourself. You’re unique: the words are yours.

4) RHYME IS NOT OBLIGATORY

Poetry does not have to rhyme

Rhyme is very difficult so don’t worry about it. Think rhythm.

5) DON’T GET HUNG UP ON THE SPELLING

Get into the creative flow first

It’s more important to speak the words of your poem out loud when

creating it.

6) BREATHE

The breath is the foundation to the voice

Also remember to breathe at the end of lines.

7) THINK EMOTION

Think of an emotion behind the poem

Try lots of different emotions see what works best for the poem.

8) LEARN YOUR LINES

The brain’s a muscle – the more you use it, the better it is!

Put the poem up on a toilet/kitchen wall and read it every time you

enter/leave the room. It will come!

9) ENJOY

If you don’t enjoy it why should the audience

A slam is just for fun! Don’t take it too seriously, even if you win.

10) REMEMBER

‘The best poet never wins.’

Marc Smith – founder of Slam Poetry

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