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Topic: SLAM Poem

Paper details:

Create a Slam poem. For more information about Slam poetry, check out all knowing Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poetry_slam There is an excellent documentary that follows four Chicago high school slam teams as they prepare for a slam competition. You can rent or buy it on YouTube. Please watch it! It’s really really good. Here’s the preview: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nRtdaKSGaHg&feature=emb_err_woyt Poetry in the slam style can be difficult and daunting to write, but so are sonnets, and teachers often assign sonnets. Is it because sonnets are acceptable, and slam sounds like hip-hop or rap? This is a discussion you could have in your writing groups, if you’d like. I’ll be honest — I’m not good at slam style poetry really at all. But the kids can really get into it (did you watch the documentary yet? Watch it! I mean it!! You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll be moved, and you’ll hear some great poetry and meet some great students). Talk about the film in your writing groups if you watch it. Here’s my example of fast spoken word poetry influenced by Ginsberg’s “Howl”: “The Marvelous Sleeping of Cities”

“The Marvelous Sleeping of Cities”

By Jesse Allred

I have walked before at night and seen the marvelous sleeping of cities when shadows have lengthened and merged and the sun has descended into chaos.

I have walked by empty churches alone and heard the laugher of women and wine from alleys, the rhythm of sex, the bouncing and heaving of the liquor store change in my front pocket.

I have walked through parks and vacant lots, by benches where bums sat stoned as ragged gargoyles awaiting rain on cathedral rooftops.

I have walked beneath the sagging summer moon of the horizon and have seen the lute  players, the dancers, the colorful gypsies and rings and the young boys with fuzzy beards and palms shiny from half-crooked smiles.

I have walked under bridges and over railroad trestles where on the hour diesel burns in the belly of the dying American beast and trees lay stripped of bark and leaf and all is straight and clean and iron.

I have stood in the presence of poets in evening farmer’s markets, hawking words and pages like okra and salmon while wiry old women shuffle their hemp bags full of freshly consumed emptiness home to their husband’s lonely bed.

I have stood in Wal-Mart checkout lines at 3 AM with people desperate for distraction buying frozen apple pies and chocolate covered chemical cakes, turning to the clerk or each other or the cameras hidden in the dark circles of the ceiling and pleading for prices listed in rainbow advertisements.

I have stood on psychedelic dance floors and smelled the motion of sweating bodies smoking cigarettes and grass, making concupiscent contact and smiling through closed cracked teeth.

I have stood over the useless bodies of dead kittens lying in the lanes between tires and mufflers and crank-case coffins and the occasional littered can.

I have sat on vinyl at Village Inn when the bars have closed and watched dragon men dig their claws into the waists of young waitresses carrying trays of menudo and Tabasco and heard the throaty laughter of drunk smokers and their girlfriends.

I have sat on ceramic tile never swept and listened to newly-met lovers learn each other’s names in the pauses between tongues and mouths and their arms wrapped thread-bare against themselves and the cold.

I have sat with bare-chested tattoos playing guitars in smoked-out rooms to black lights and broken clocks and every glance from awkward 18 year-old girls slouched on couches with their inhibitions and beer and young boys fondling their thighs.

I have recorded the waking and the sleeping, the farewell kiss on the cold cheek, the tear brushed shamefully aside, the molded mound of earth, the brief inscription, the shortening of shadows as the sun rises exhausted from its mountainous bed.


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