Disclaimer: (The first paragraph builds off of my last review of UM Slam Poetry , please check it out, it is called REVIEW: UM Slam Poetry and is a little further down on the website!)
I absolutely love listening to slam poems, it is my favorite form of verbal art, so I was disheartened from the turnout of the event. My favorite part of the last poetry slam, the open mics, were nonexistent at this slam. In fact, the turnout was so low that they could not even find a sufficient amount of judges in the audience. Something needs to be changed in the marketing and setup of UM Slam Poetry, because I cannot imagine there is such little interest in slam poetry at the University of Michigan, one of the largest academic institutions in the world. The setup of the slam poems should be changed, in fact I think almost everything should be changed. The venue needs to be different for sure. There needs to be some presence of a stage and there needs to be a more dramatic and intimate feel. Slam Poems are more than the words said, they are a performance and performances need an environment that fits the essence of the art. The Kalamazoo room in the league does not provide this. Also the judges should have some sense of authority. It is okay that they are random people from the audience, but they should not be jeered at every time they hold up their score. Maybe they should sit up front, or should just turn in their scores privately.
Now on to the actual poems. The night started off with professional poems being read by the presidents of UM Slam Poetry. If you want to hear an amazing slam poem, with a classic american bad girl feel, listen to Backpedal by Olivia Gatwood. It defines what it means to be a girl while telling the story of an indifferent man. The narrative voice of the poem was very strong like the character of the poet portrayed. Another good read from the night was What was said on the bus by Danez Smith.
In my last review I talked about how I really connected with Kai, one of the presidents, slam poem. This time the other president Olivia read a poem, and again I was astonished. I am not surprised these two lead the club. The strongest imagery I got from Olivia’s poem was how I feel like my life is similar to a trapped fly. My favorite poem, and most unique one I heard from the night was about self violence, but told through the mouth of the Grim Reaper. The reader did a phenomenal job performing, I could see his lips curling and spit flying from his passion. I hope I am able to hear more slam poems this year.