Before I sat down to write this piece, I was a poetry slam virgin, despite the fact that poetry slams have been around for years – and yes even in Singapore.
Sure I was prepared for the celebration of spoken word, but that was merely just the beginning of what I was about to experience at my first slam, courtesy of Poesis. For it was this poetry slam – organised by Project Ecclesia as part of the i-AM Festival, the annual arts festival directed and produced by the students from the Arts Management at LASALLE – which opened up my eyes and ears and had me leaving the event absolutely buzzing.
I have to be honest in saying that this was one of the rare occasions throughout my time in Singapore that I went in with no expectations and was subsequently blown away but what I experienced. Because this poetry slam was a hot bed of true wit, brilliance and emotion.
But what is a poetry slam, and how it works? In a nutshell, a poetry slam is essentially the competitive art writing and performing poetry, with slammers being scored and judged based on their content and performance delivered in three rounds. Though they are competing for cash prizes, it’s quite clear that this is by-the-by, because those competing are clearly doing it for the love of the art, and the opportunity to share and express their art with others.
This slam consisted of six poets – Saranya Mahendran, Stanley Ang, Zuni Chong, Abel Koh, Jack Ngu and Veltrice Tan – who had been selected through an open call process and subsequently mentored by Marc Nair of Word Forward (an organisation which works to promote the literary arts in Singapore) – here he is setting the standard for the night with his own incredible performance…
and award-winning, veteran theatre actress Karen Tan whose face will be familiar from many a theatre poster, who brought a special wit and warmth with her passion and vivacious ways as compere for the evening.
What was special about this event was the incredible expression of hopes, frustrations, passions, dreams, emotions and lyrical genius inspired by themes of escapism that bubbled up and exploded on stage making it a skin-tingling experience all round. Themes bounced from the angst of lost love…
to bittersweet confessionals and comical pieces…
as each slammer took you on a literary journey which engulfed the audience completely through different styles and paces, bending, twisting and weaving their words to often jaw-dropping, heart-wrenching or mind-boggling effect.
This was one of the most engaging, stimulating events I have attended in Singapore. In fact so good was it that I think we might have in our midst the beginning of a poetry slam addict.
My words and photos really can not convey the energy, emotion and talent that was contained within those four walls that night. To feel it, you need to experience it and no better place to do that is the poetry slams organized by Word Forward, held at Blu Jazz on every last Thursday of the month at 8pm. In fact the next one is coming right up on 29th March – for more information see here.
Once you have experience it for yourselves, I’m sure you’ll realise just how underrated and underdeveloped this art form currently is, particularly on our shores. Oh and do keep your eyes open for more information on this year’s Lit Up Festival taking place on 21-28 July where you’ll be able to catch the winner of this particular slam – Zuni Chong – performing.
Written by Ms Demeanour