We Are Poets – Review

We Are Poets is a  documentary following the journey of six Leeds based young authors who take on America at a slam competition in Washington DC. I’m afraid I’ve never been a fan of the poetry slam  but this film made me question my judgement.

This is how I saw the slam before the film:  If poets are the clarion of revolution then slam is a powerful  sponsor that  undermines the core principles of what poetry is and of what poets are.

After the film I had to ask myself if slam has given the power of the poem to the  judges am I underestimating  young poets by thinking they are not robust enough to climb above the  definitions of a panel or  audience to become the poets they are?

I realised  that poets will always absorb and then climb above whatever structures are  built to define them. Because of Slam the ever decreasing circle of the poetry reading is now looking outwards  to the masses and that has to be exciting.

As a film We Are Poets is to british  young poets  what Spellbound is to American youth. I always thought slam was flawed because it has only one winner. But in We Are Poets I’ve learned that  slam encourages a generation of winners.

Where there are walls new poetry movements  will see over them. Where there are gateways new poetry movements will open them and where there are gatekeepers new poetry movements will see through them.  This film made me fonder of the new generation and reminded me of what it is to be a poet.

1 thought on “We Are Poets – Review

  1. Hi Lemn!
    Last night I went to my first Poetry Slam, put on by the brilliant Hammer & Tongue. Only a fiver, and a really great night, with two fantastic poets headlining. It was thanks to your blog I was there actually (that post about Occupy London where you happened to hear Kate Tempest perform and were blown away). So when I noticed her name on a flyer along with the amazing Dizraeli I knew I had to be there. She IS Incredible! A force to be reckoned with. How inspiring to hear & see her in full flow, she is truly something else!

    Dizraeli was awesome too, urgent, wickedly funny, lyrical, incisive. I came away with huge respect for them both, really bowled over by what they do. The Slam was good as it opened up the floor for less established poets/lyricists to test their wings, and the audience was right behind them. ‘Angry Sam’ as host was excellent, his laconic humour, pace and insights really held it together. Four of the Slam Poets were vivid and sharp, with real landscapes and narratives carried over with good rhythmn/delivery, the other three were just as courageous and focused but needed to develop depth and subtlety to their writing.
    Overall it was so fresh, and a huge relief from the daily static and white noise of the mainstream sell, sell, sell! It reminded me how vital and exciting narrative is, how strongly we need to hear individual voices tell something real, something felt in a unique, urgent way. To hear others and to tune to their frequency is vital, we clarify one another. The atmosphere was jubilant yet attentive, around 170 people packed in and loving it.

    As for the judging it was very low key and fair, but I’m not sure about that thing of who’s the best. It seems to be born out of a need to create structure to an event, to stimulate excitement, and perhaps providing focus for people to channel their abilites. Is it the best way to do this? Maybe not. That said, last night Was superb and I urge anyone who enjoys or loves Oral poetry to get out there and experience the energy and creative edge of these events which seem to be far less of a competition and more of a celebration.

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