Paul Vermeersch’s Argument Against Slam Poetry

I was interested to look up arguments against slam poetry after Monday’s class session. This is one I found. It is a blog post by Paul Vermeersch:
http://www.paulvermeersch.ca/2008/05/rant-why-i-hate-spoken-word-poetry.html

Basically, Paul argues that slam poets write poor poetry and then use the performance element of it to cover up the poor writing.¬†On the one hand, I think I understand where he is coming from. I really appreciate a thoughtfully written poem with really great wording, but I don’t think slam poetry means to “cover up” bad poetry, nor do I think that is primarily what it does. I think it brings a new level of depth. One of my favorite parts about poetry is how it sounds, but if a poem is not read aloud, you miss that. I also think his argument focuses too much on the problems with performance, not the problems with slam poetry. By his argument, you could also say that¬†special effects should not be used in movies because they can sometimes be over-used to try and cover up a really bad movie. It is true that this happens, just as I’m sure it is true that sometimes the performance aspect of slam poetry can attempt to cover up poorly written poems, but to dispute all slam poetry does not make sense to me. It seems to me like he argues more against the misuse of slam poetry than the movement itself.

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1 Response to Paul Vermeersch’s Argument Against Slam Poetry

  1. Rachel Rotramel says:

    I completely agree, I think that the idea of performing poetry is meant to enhance the exciting and engaging parts of the poem rather than cover up bad writing. I also don’t like that he grouped all slam poets together, accusing them all of writing bad poetry that is “is unoriginal, old-hat, and boring”. He seems to be under the impression that all people who participate in slam poetry readings are college punks that don’t have anything better to do with their time, and certainly aren’t as well educated as he is about what exactly poetry “is” and how it should be shared with an audience. I am curious as to how many poetry slams he has attended and what lead him to this conclusion.

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