There are few platforms that force a poet to sharpen their craft better than the Word N Sound Open Mic Poetry Slam League. Each month, the most talented of artists go up against each other in SA toughest poetry competition in a quest to be crowned King/Queen of the Mic.
We ask those who know the nature of slams best to share their tips for any aspirant slam poets ahead of the first Slam For Your Life National Slam Finale at the National Arts Festival this Sunday.
What 3 tips do you have for any aspirant slam poet?
Masai: Read. Your writing should always be honest. Think outside the box and learn to creatively break the rules.
Lucas: Don’t be too haste to write, it’s quality over quality. Vven if you didn’t make it to the Top 5 or win a slam competition, don’t be too hard on yourself. Always come out as yourself in every slam. Never let anything cloud who you really are, because you are telling “your” stories.
Dikson: Be original. If you’re inspired by someone, great, but don’t mimic them or translate their stories into your tongue. The most exciting poets feed off of themselves, not others.
Perform as much as you can. I’ve gone through periods of not performing for months over the last few years, whilst it’s good to take a break you’ll always be at your peak when you write and perform frequently, it’s a cycle. That said, we’re all built differently, I know I could dedicate a lot more time to my art, I suppose it’s important too then to recognise your weaknesses and build on them if you can.
Be open to other forms of art though, I feel that slamming’s biggest lesson to me has been that it isn’t everything, it’s pushed me towards the written word and photography and taught me about the synergy between art forms and the purity of art and artists.
Mutle: Read books out aloud, it helps with articulation. It’s not always necessary to follow other slam poets avidly and memorize their works. I feel less copy cat artworks are born when we find our art in spaces other than the spaces where we hang it. Find poems in how your nail grows, a child’s way of communication before their vocab falls in place, the poetry of seasons and study NATURE!!! Also, learn how to go against your writing style.
Xabiso: Hone your craft – practice every day, learn the rules and bylaws, listen and read other poets and writers. Know the judging criteria and your audience. Breathe, relax, enjoy yourself.