Saturday night poetry slam series comes to The Wall at BYU

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BYU student reading a poetry book. The Saturday Night Slam Series at The Wall gives all students the opportunity to get exposure to poetry. (Universe Photo)

The Saturday Night Slam Series in association with the BYU English Society will be hosting its first poetry slam at The Wall on Saturday Oct. 17, 2015 from 6-8 pm.

Sam Anderson, a BYU student majoring in English, started the Saturday Night Slam Series with his friends and said the series has become increasingly popular over the last few months.

“We are really excited about our collaboration with the BYU English Society because our goal is to bring slam poetry as many students as possible,” Anderson said.

The event, titled “Rocktober” is designed to expose people to poetry in a way they wouldn’t normally see with traditional poetry.

Madelyn Taylor, general officer with the English Society, explained many people view poetry as quiet and reserved, but said she thinks the slam poetry series helps break that stereotype.

“A poetry slam is competitive performance poetry where you write and perform your own poetry. It is very dependent of audience participation, its about getting people in the audience pumped as well,” Taylor said. “It’s very inclusive of the audience so clapping, snapping, stomping feet, making noise is expected. It’s something you wouldn’t really expect from poetry.”

Slam poetry is structured this way in order to be exciting and accessible to everyone.

Jesse Bunten, creative writing officer at the English Society, said it is a casual event that helps people get exposed to the culture of poetry.

“You don’t have to be a scholar or a poet to enjoy the event, its a fun event for everyone,” Bunten said. “One of our goals of the poetry slams is to have poetry within reach of the typical student. We want to make sure anyone can show up and feel comfortable at the event.”

Taylor explained the structure behind the judging of the poems is intended to create an engaging and unbiased atmosphere. The goal was to set up an environment where anyone can feel confident in sharing feelings through poetry.

“There are five judges, the judges are picked out of the crowd randomly. One of the unofficial rules of slam poetry is that you don’t have English teachers and poetry professionals to judge slam poetry because it is about getting people who wouldn’t necessarily be involved in poetry to get involved,” Taylor said.

Anderson mentioned that anyone can sign up and compete at Saturday Night Slam Series events. Attendees are also invited to bring their own haiku. A haiku is a traditional Japanese poem that consists of three lines and 17 syllables. Five on the first and last line and seven in the middle.

“We encourage everyone to come and participate. Bring a haiku to share, anyone can come up with 17 syllables,” Anderson said. “Slam poetry is a beautiful way to express yourself and anyone can do it, thats what makes it fun and exciting,”

Bunten said the Saturday Night Slam Series is about giving people a platform to express themselves while connecting with their fellow peers.

“In general, we see our peers going from class to class, this event allows the opportunity to really connect the student body and see people for who they are,” Bunten said.

The BYU English Society and the creators of the Saturday Night Slam Series said they hope the slams can continue monthly due to the increasing popularity even though the event is only scheduled for this Saturday.

“We hope that this event can become a long standing tradition here at BYU,” Bunten said.

For more information about the event see Saturday Night Slam Series: Rocktober and BYU English Society.

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