The Spoken Word

A Look at Slam Poetry in Chennai

Vasanthi Pillai, III Year B.A. Economics

Art forms evolve with time and that is what makes it so beautiful. Poetry as an art form has seen extraordinary evolutions from the haiku to micro poetry to free verse. However, the recent culture of transforming poetry into a performing art is insofar the most inspiring.

Slam poetry or spoken word poetry is a form of art where the poet performs her/his piece of poetry, usually for a minimum of five minutes. The poetry is not expected to have a particular structure; however, abstract poetry generally does not fit into spoken word poetry very well, as it is generally looked at as storytelling in poems. Abstractness dilutes the intensity and weakens the impact of the piece.

Slam poetry is slowly growing more popular in Chennai, especially in the past year. Chennai has been exploring this art form through open mikes across the city, bringing poets off their journals and directly before their audience. Providing a public space to perform poetry through cheerful and supportive audiences signifies a healthy growth of this art form. The most admirable part of open mikes is the non-judgemental attitude from the audience, the genuine love for poetry and a strong community that is built out of artists who explore.

Various groups like Open Sky Slams, Mocking Bird, Let’s Talk Life and Ashvitha Bistro’s Weekend Open Mikes have encouraged and brought together anonymous faces behind those metaphors and connected them with their voice. The Airplane Poetry Movement was found for the primary purpose of communicating through spoken word poetry.

This new form of art has a long way to go. Many poets are experimenting with styles and genres in these open mikes and the warmth they receive from the audiences gets them going. An art form grows with people and in turn, makes the people beautiful.

[Photograph Source: Facebook]

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