Kids — 12 and 13 years old — pour their guts onto paper in verse. They spend weeks furiously writing, revising, and coaching each other, and revising again. When they are done, they stand alone in front of their peers and recite poetry, using voice and gesture to bring their words to life.
This may sound like an English teacher’s pipe dream, but it is becoming a common experience in classrooms across the country. In lower-income neighborhoods in cities like New York and Chicago, students are competing with words and then settling in for discussions of metaphor, assonance, consonance, and allusion.
Slam poetry, a blend of literature and performance that culminates in live competitions called slams, is transforming these students from reluctant, shy, or diffident learners into passionate artists. It is helping teachers not just teach writing but also build confidence. For more information about “Our youth are slamming” literacy program and how this can be implemented in your school, please contact us via email or call: Curtis Harris, Executive Director at 516-670-4868.