Illustrations by Kelsey Darbro

An overview of slam poetry

Slam poetry is a form of artistic poetic expression that is centered around delivery and performance. Poetry slams are usually competitive events where poets perform their work live in front of judges and audience members, according to a slam poetry article published by Grinnell College. 

Former WKU student Megan Cole said the last time she saw slam poetry on campus was during the wave of activism that occurred in 2020. 


“The last time I saw that form of poetry was after Breonna Taylor died,” Cole said. 

When asked about the performances and what makes a successful slam poem, Tom Hunley, a creative writing professor, said that a multitude of repetition, such as repeating key ideas and sounds, is a valuable asset to a successful slam poem. 

“If you don’t have it in front of you, and a key idea is mentioned only once you might miss it,” Hunley said.

Hunley said that he thinks the best slam poets have their poem memorized, he said he advises poets wanting to explore and participate in slam poetry to expose themselves to it as much as possible.     

“I think it’s smart to watch as many good performance poets as possible, whether it be live or on videos,” Hunley said. 

Georgetown sophomore and creative writing major Syd Lewis said that slam poetry is a valuable part of the arts scene at WKU.  

“I think these events are very valuable to watch,” Lewis said. “It feels like a good way to bring the arts into the public sphere.” 


Lewis said she feels that schools and the public tend to not value this form of art, and bringing it into the public will spark more appreciation for the medium. Lewis feels being able to see these performances live give writers a secure and personal place in the community.  

“Whenever I see other creative writers explain their work, it makes me feel more confident,” Lewis said. “And I think it has that effect on other writers who are just trying to get into that community.” 

The Talisman will host a poetry slam event on Tuesday, Feb. 21 from 7 to 9 p.m. in the Downing Student Union. The event, which is sponsored by the WKU Student Government Association, will offer poets an opportunity to compete in addition to providing a space to appreciate the arts.