APM’s Slam Poetry Workshop

“A picture speaks a thousand words; a poem conveys a thousand emotions.”

Slam Poetry certainly seems to be gaining impetus at MIT. The Literary, Debating, and Quizzing Club, in collaboration with the Airplane Poetry Movement, organized a Slam Poetry workshop on the 16th of April. What started off as a teaching session on the intricacies of slam poetry ended up becoming a platform for all the poets to give voice to their words.
Slam Poetry is not just about the words. Expressing each word vocally is equally important in this form of poetry. In the words of Shantanu and Nandini, the founders of the Airplane Poetry Movement,” Slamming is not very different from theatre or acting. You literally need to give voice and emotion to your words.”


The Workshop started off with Shantanu and Nandini both performing a poem of their own. While Shantanu’s poem on ‘Being Cool’ was laced with humour and sarcasm, Nandini performed a rather grave poem on ‘Menstruation’. They asked the participants to take note of their performance, and not just their poem. According to them, if a poem has been inked down by a certain individual, he or she can lend a unique expression to the poem when he or she performs it. This was evident in their first activity where even writing something as simple as five random truths in one’s life became a poem when the participants were asked to perform their respective pieces.

After a bit too small session on the niches of slam poetry, the workshop transitioned from an educative to more of an interactive platform. The students were asked to write poems, and perform them in front of the audience. While somebody emulated Don Corleone, another participant recited the lament of Christopher Columbus. ‘Girls on bread’, a direct reference to the sitcom, F.R.I.E.N.D.S., was another poem which managed to induce nostalgia in the entire room.


Shantanu giving tips on how to perform

There were certain aspects of the workshop which could have been better organized. For instance, Airplane Poetry Movement should have gotten more time while shortening the performances. A few tips here and there with feedback on the performances would have helped a lot, as the event did not feel particularly useful from the point of view of writing poetry. Publicity started late, hence the turnout wasn’t overwhelming, whereby enthusiastic poets around Manipal may have missed out. The time constraint was another factor. Despite starting as scheduled, not every participant got a chance to perform. Participation should have been limited, with people external to LnD getting preference during performances. Whether it was an urge to perform or to listen to Shantanu and Nandini, almost everybody in the room wanted the workshop to be extended by another hour.

Despite the few negatives, the workshop received a positive response from everybody. The interactive nature of the workshop gave some confidence to all those shy poets out there. Needless to say, this workshop will certainly be an important stepping stone in the process of establishing a slam poetry culture at MIT.