Hi everyone! Today I’m posting in response to a frustrating effect I’ve noticed in the public perception of ‘slam poetry.’ For my research, I subscribe to Google News updates which send me daily emails with links to every media article posted that day containing the words “performance poetry,” “spoken word,” or “slam poetry.” Usually these emails are just event bulletins or interviews with poets; however, sometimes unexpected pieces pop up. This past week, I received notice of at least three articles where journalists were describing Sarah Palin’s endorsement speech for Donald Trump’s presidential campaign as “slam poetry”(see video, transcript of the speech; see articles in NY Mag, NY Times, Flavorwire).
Palin’s speech was long and rambling, full of incoherent, disconnected statements, delivered with over-the-top pep, and assumedly it is for those reasons that the sources described it as ‘slam poetry.’ This frustrates me because it indicates a cultural perception that performance poetry is simply passionate babble, lacking artistry or formal constraints. In this post I will briefly explain why this use of the term ‘slam poetry’ to describe Palin’s speech is inaccurate, misinformed, and rather rude. More after the jump!