By Thomas Macaulay
Poetry has long held a reputation for being inaccessible. It’s a reputation that Poetry Slam is dismantling, by taking poetry from the library to the stage in a live format that democratizes an art form commonly caricatured as elitist.
In the event format, poets are given three minutes to recite their work before members of the audience cast their judgment. This is poetry as performance, where sentiment and style combine with syntax and structure like a literary rap battle whose combatants are as likely to wear a cardigan as a baseball cap. The first poetry slam is said to have taken place at Chicago’s Get Me High Lounge in 1984.
Since then, the format has expanded worldwide, arriving in Barcelona in 2010. Community is as much a part of Poetry Slam as competition. Proudly inclusive, the event serves as a diverse social hub to exchange ideas, bringing poetry to the people.