Yet this is an aversion I struggle with because, while I am not aesthetically fulfilled by such writing, I must admit that it fulfills one of poetry's three original offices: song, prayer, and spell. Slam poetry is, of course, really song, and in that sense, I can appreciate good slam poetry. When it is good, it can even evoke prayer-like qualities, as in Suheir Hammad's collection, Breaking Poems, which uses the rhythm-centric constraints of slam poetry to invent a new language. But, the critical devil in me pipes up, the bad slam poetry is sooooo baaaaad.
Well, I tell myself, there's loads of bad "literary" poetry out there as well. In fact, I've got a whole box of it that I've written! Just as the bad movies, pop songs, reality T.V. shows, and boy bands vastly outnumber the good, truly fantastic writing of all genres is similarly outnumbered. After all, not everyone is a Dickens or a Dickinson. Perhaps I should be more thankful for events such as the NPS, which present the best of the best to the nation. I was truly thankful to read this blog post by Tod Caviness, a slam poet who is similarly conflicted by his craft. As writers, of whatever genre, we should all keep our pomposity and snobbery in check, and carry on with the spirit of humility and inclusiveness.