Poetry Performance

I had never heard of a TV show called Def Poetry Jam until today, but I’ve been seeing clips from that show for years without knowing what they were from. I originally started writing this post to talk about the SpokenPoetryTV Youtube channel, but I’ve been looking up info about Def Poetry Jam instead. It’s an old show; it went off the air in 2007. The history is fascinating. Slam poetry, of course, is fascinating by itself. I wish I knew more about it. Marc Smith, I think, usually credited with being the founder of the slam poetry movement, apparently felt that the movement had become too commercial in general, and specifically felt that Def Poetry Jam was exploitative.

Anyway. SpokenPoetryTV collects poetry performance videos. Performed poetry, especially really contemporary stuff, is powerful. Kids like me who come to class already hooked on Keats and Dickinson are pretty unusual. For everyone else, the everyday language, the movement, the audible passion in slam performances can make a transformative difference in their enjoyment of poetry.