No matter how much sex there can be or how generous your pay checks come, you still have not experienced real amazement until you’ve been to a Chicago-style poetry slam. For four years, the end of February and beginning of March has marked the season in which I unleashed my craft. As a freshman in high school a new world adopted me; I became a slam poet. In these seasons I wrote to be recognized by a community of poetic giants, who spoke through images clamoring for points, and who aroused audiences causing their members to break the chairs in front of them. Louder Than A Bomb (LTAB), Chicago’s annual city-wide youth poetry slam festival, pulled my school into a writing process that I now understand to be an element of distinguished poets. I have seen five generations of poets evolve. Yesterday I witnessed my alma mater’s fifth collective of LTAB preliminary bouts and I could not be more proud of the dynasty that I have succeeded. But bigger than my own dynasty I realized—as a non-poet this year— the value of my city’s poetry community.
It felt good to listen to slam poetry with polished writing: burned cliches, balanced diction, and powerful images. A poetry slam is a compettition in which writers have 3 minutes to perform a piece, that will afterward will be judged. Judges are selected audience members who hold up a score from 1 to 10. Often, poets advance in a slam with a gimmick of a voice, which clouds out the bad writing. My homecoming from Philly always anticipates the escape of such abomination, but my time in the “Chi” always reminds me that “the point is not the points, the point is the poetry.” You see when a poem is writen with the likes of G-d, the words linger in your soul’s ear, blocking in effect, the announcement of scores. Some artists never see their work in drafts, what takes poetry from simple expression and makes it into a craft. Away from home, slam doesn’t make sense like it used to; the poets seem to be content with winning praise for less than bonified writing while the audience settles. Theres no denial that I’m spoiled; raised by great poets such as Molly Meacham, Billy Tuggle, Kevin Coval, Robbie Q., Avery R Young, and Brian Telles, I’m proud to be a hard-to-please brat of poetry.
Semi-finals of the high school division of LTAB come tomorrow and words will be thrown. We always want the deserving team to be championed, even if my favorite team doesn’t may the good writers leave the stage as new legends. Whoever wins in the final round represents a city with a culture that out-writes the nation. I hope that they carry on the maxim to Brave New Voices (BNV- the nation-wide youth poetry slam that LTAB champions qualify for) and teach the poets, young and old, to re-focus their craft. The point is not points, the point is the poetry.