I recently read a blog post about slam poetry by James Merenda. I love everything about slam poetry and spoken word and this article gave me some information that I didn’t know. For example, I did’t know that slam poetry was invented by a Chicago construction worker named Marc Smith. One thing that I liked that the article did was focus on the importance of performing and how that engages and connects the audience. I think performing your work gives it a different life than doing a reading. When I watch individuals in Slam, I feel like at that moment they are choosing to expose everything to the audience and we are trapped in this moment with them. We hear the pain, anger, or sadness of whatever they are choosing to relive in those moments, and that’s a feeling that you can’t really escape. I think sometimes it’s so easy to detach yourself from your writing and let them be just words, but with slam poetry you can’t escape what you’ve written and I think that’s probably one of the bravest things a writer can do. For me being a great performer is having the ability to not only draw in the audience but to keep them there with you. To engage in your story to the point where they get lost in it and leave with a new meaning of who you are. I think with every piece you read out loud you’re giving the audience a puzzle which tells a little story of who you are and so on.
I think Rudy Francisco encompasses what slam poetry is all about. I came across one of his most viewed performance, “Scars/To the Boyfriend” on youtube and I completely fell in love with his style and the way he performances. He leaves nothing back and pulls the listener into his words. The first part “Scars,” is about his ex girlfriend and their bad breakup. He shows the audience that he’s still working through his feelings of anger but at the same time he can’t help but still love her and miss her. He transitions smoothly into his next poem, “To the New Boyfriend” which continues from the end of their relationship and his ex-girlfriend’s new relationship. Check out his full performance of “Scars/To the New Boyfriend” here:
Besides being an amazing performer, Rudy Francisco’s writing also stands on its own. He showcases pieces of his writing on his tumbler page. I think he’s so popular because he can be very relatable but at the same time he can showcase his strengths as a writer and show everyone that he knows his craft. In an interview after he won the Individual World Poetry Slam in 2010 he states, “I competed in IWPS for the first time in 2008 and I finished 17th overall. I didn’t make final stage but I also didn’t feel like I deserved to. In 2009, I took 3rd and felt like I placed higher than I should’ve, a part of me felt like I didn’t really deserve to be ranked that high. Shortly after, I purchased a few IWPS dvd’s, began studying rigorously and challenging myself to step outside of my box and be more vulnerable in my writing and performance. In 2010, I really felt like the work I did paid off.”* He teaches all writers not to give up and that there is always room to learn and improve. After watching him perform and reading his poems I know I’m striving to be a better poet and be as vulnerable like him. I really admire him as a poet and how much work and dedication that he puts into his writing and performances. So if you haven’t heard of Rudy Francisco, take a minute and Google him. I promise you’ll fall in love too!