What is Poetry Slam?
by Walter González from Poetry Slam Guatemala
The graphic record of ideas through writing has been a need for the preservation of stories and traditions that came from pure orality. Current technologies enable the transmission and preservation of the living voice of those who still preserve those traditions in the collective mental and spiritual record. Before the emergence of these technologies, the compilation and uniform interpretation of these data through standardized codes was necessary and before these standardized codes, these ideas, legends and traditions had to pass the filters, interpretations, adjustments and canons dictated by colonial interests. Even today it is difficult to get real freedom of expression, there are models and systems that simply cannot withstand scrutiny and questioning; sadly, in certain places there is still persecution while in others, a system that isolates and silences those voices that are uncomfortable. The efforts for the fight, defense and preservation of human rights are progressing little by little but they still do not manage to guarantee us a system free of sexism, classism, racism, homophobia, transphobia, xenophobia, elements that for a long time went undetected, so much so that many of these concepts are just neologisms in the absence of a definition.
When Mark K. Smith founded the Poetry Slam almost forty years ago in the United States, the intention was to bring poetry to the audience through a fusion of theatrical and literary elements, however, several forms of performance and Spoken Word developed from previous decades by African-American and queer communities found a suitable stage at the Slam.
The expansion of the Poetry Slam throughout Europe and the Abya Yala has given the opportunity to fulfill the objective of bringing literature closer to the people through competitions held in cafes and bars and not exclusively in cultural centers, as well as penetrating educational centers and not only that, It has made possible the visibility of rural communities as well as urban tribes. For some, it has been the opportunity to publicize the folklore of their community, for others it has been the opportunity to make a complaint and social criticism, for others it has been the opportunity to have a stage at their disposal that was previously dedicated only to artists. of a certain elite. The Poetry Slam has become a social and cultural event, a space for the search for true freedom of expression.
In this search, the Slam also becomes a community exercise, a safe space in which those who attend can take advantage of the stage and oral expression to free themselves and expel, in an almost therapeutic way, things that were probably inside the psyche. In this dynamic, those who participate both in the role of performers and from the audience, can take advantage of the liberating experience, strengthening the community and creating a sense of mutual support.
Written poetry continues to enjoy popularity, in fact many Slam artists have publications. The difference between written and scenic is primarily the performative possibility, the scenic ability. The Slam gives us a chance to enter directly into the world created by each poet, a world that comes out of the abstraction of written language and that feeds on body and proxemic language. It also gives us an immediacy, a temporality that creates a greater emotional impact, an integral experience that moves us, outrages us, makes us happy, but beyond all that, it unites us and frees us.
The Slam is a celebration, an experience, a family.