Poetry slam has often been lambasted in media as overdramatic and a bit silly, but it actually has great value as a form of self-expression. Slam poetry, or spoken-word poetry, is contemporary poetry meant to be recited aloud with emotional drive. It often focuses on political issues or personal experiences which are close to the heart of the writer.
The poetry slam community is populated more heavily than many other art communities with members of marginalized groups and activists. The emotion most often associated with this community is anger and indeed these poems are often a call to action to improve the world around us.
However, poetry slam can be driven by any and all emotions including joy, humor, confusion, grief, and anything in between. Often poems deal with multiple emotions at once. The pieces may describe specific experiences, but many of the feelings they bring up are universal. This lets listeners from all walks of life connect to the work.
It is this aspect of poetry slam that is the most important: accessibility. Unlike more traditional poetry, the meaning behind the words is not hard to understand. You don’t need a college education or a natural talent to express yourself in this way. All you need is a drive or something you want to talk about. There are writing workshops to help people create poetry slam which can be helpful. But, anyone can be a part of this community and everyone who chooses to join it is valued.