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MSU Slam Poetry Team use passion for poetry to help each other, perform

April 21, 2017

Slam poetry differs from what some might consider normal poetry. Rather than just reading directly from a piece of a paper, slam is a specific competition involving performance.  

The MSU Slam Poetry Team's main objective is to help empower the community of poets in East Lansing and MSU. During poetry slams, poets go in front of randomly selected judges and perform their poems. 

The team allows students to step out their comfort zone and share their passion for poetry among other students. 

“I was just looking for a place where I can share my work and get feedback on it,” Jay Hull, professional writing junior, said. “I had been writing poetry since I was a kid, but hadn’t really done much like in the way of sharing it or in the way of slam. … So, it was a really great opportunity to meet other people who are writing things and hear what people had to say about what I was writing."

Slam poetry is meant to be performed and is different than traditional poetry. Hull said it tends to be a little more personal and political because it is a way to express frustration and emotions to an audience.

“Traditional written poetry, you have it on a page and it's meant to be read, where slam is more about the power and emotion behind your words and behind your performance,” Hull said. 

Hospitality business sophomore Andrea Batten said she started writing poetry on and off in eighth grade, and it picked up during her junior and senior year of high school. 

“I think what I like most about being a poet is being able to express myself using words and rhythm in a way that generally people don’t in regular conversations,” she said. 

By being a part of the team, it gives Batten a group of people she knows she can go to about anything poetry related.

“It gives me a space where I don't have to be afraid of what I’m saying in a poem or how it will come off to them because they all kind of understand the feeling of going through a struggle with writing a poem,” she said. “It also gives me a really good sounding board for different poem ideas.”

Social relations and policy sophomore Lainie Kray started writing poetry in her junior and senior year of high school and said the performative aspect of slam poetry is a great way to see your poems resonated.

“I like writing poetry just because I feel like it's a great creative outlet to have, and I feel like it's really cathartic for me to write about things that are bugging me or just stuff that I have on my mind,” she said. 

Kray’s favorite slam poem right now is “Ode To My Bitch Face” by Olivia Gatwood. She said it's a poem about the way women are expected to behave in everyday society.  

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