“Slam poetry” refers to competitions (“slams”) where people read their poems and typically are scored by a judge. Slam poetry often covers relevant societal issues and personal stories, but it also can cover just about anything. To me, slam poetry has always been empowering to listen to and easy- accessing slam poetry is as easy as a quick youtube search. With this, here are slam poets and poems which I believe are incredibly powerful and important.
1. Olivia Gatwood
Gatwood has been featured on HBO, Verses & Flow, Button Poetry and Huffington Post. She is probably best known for her collaborative slam poem, “Say No,” and is the author of New American Best Friend, a collection of poems. Her poems explore many themes of womanhood and social constraints, best emphasized in her several poems that are “odes to things [she thinks she is] supposed to feel ashamed of.”
2. Melissa Lozada-Oliva
Lozada-Olive is a National Poetry Slam Champion, a Brenda Moosey Video Slam Champion, and the author of the chapbook Plastic Pájaros. She writes often about social justice, relationships, and her Latina experience. This poem, specifically, addresses this slam poetry video, which sought to enlighten our generation on how to “sound like you know what you’re talking about.”
3. Sierra DeMulder
DeMulder is a National Poetry Slam champion, Pushcart-nominated touring performance poet, Best Female Poet at College Union Poetry Slam Invitational, and ranked ninth in the individual world poetry slam. She is the author of four books, and has written poetry about abuse recovery, womanhood, and more. Her poetry is honest, inspiring, and hopeful.
4. Sarah Kay
Kay is a spoken word poet, author, and the founder and co-director of Project V.O.I.C.E. Her poetry is eloquent, feminist, and empowering.
5. Crystal Valentine
Valentine is an incredibly powerful slam poet and 2015 New York City Youth Poet Laureate, who has mobilized thousands of voters. She has written thoughtfully about racism, her experiences as a black woman, and criticized exclusion of women of color within feminism.