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Slam Gets Kids Into Poetry

By Eddie Keegan

When we think ‘poetry,’ many of us tend to think Wordsworth, Burns and Shakespeare, largely down to the way schools teach about poetry. School age students tend to study the classics and while there is no doubt whatsoever that such classics are simply masterpieces and deserve their place in the literary canon, they often fail to appeal to younger generations.

So how can we get youngsters excited about poetry? Well, it seems a number of schools in the UK might have the right idea now. The National Schools Slam Poetry competition introduces school children to the art of performance poetry by holding a nationwide poetry slam annually. The poetry performed at slam poetry events tends to be more edgy, modern and allows for a very free style. Rhyme and rhythm are often central and these are the types of poems that are, essentially, brought to life by being performed.

The youngsters are judged here on more than just their writing itself. In fact, you could argue that many of the very best slam style poems could look flat when simply left on paper and not performed. But at slam competitions, the poet must perform their work in a way that really brings it to life. He or she should be able to portray the meaning of their words in the way they perform them. Many believe this is a much more demanding task than a simple, traditional recital.

Performance poetry is becoming really very popular in the USA as well, where television shows like Def Poetry are attracting a growing following. That show, in fact, frequently invites celebrities on to perform their poems, including Kanye West. With its freestyle and rhythm we can see why slam poetry is often compared to hip hop.

However, this style of poetry encourages expression through words, rhythm and rhyme and therefore it cannot be questioned that this is an excellent creative outlet for youngsters. It’s certainly a way to drag poetry into the 21st century and make it appeal to a younger generation.

Check out Write Poetry for a host of original poems.

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Article Citation
MLA Style Citation:
Keegan, Eddie "Slam Gets Kids Into Poetry." Slam Gets Kids Into Poetry. 3 Jul. 2010. 24 Dec 2014 <>.

APA Style Citation:
Keegan, E (2010, July 3). Slam Gets Kids Into Poetry. Retrieved December 24, 2014, from

Chicago Style Citation:
Keegan, Eddie "Slam Gets Kids Into Poetry"

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