Powerful Performances and Poetry

In keeping with the theme of poetry for the month of April, I’d like to share another fabulous group I fell in love with a long time ago. I have introduced this community’s videos to my classes for the last two years. With the help of this community, I have brought poetry to the lives of youngsters who feel they have no voice; who feel their voice doesn’t matter in this world; who feel that there is not one soul interested in hearing them out.

This group goes by the name of Button Poetry.

Button Poetry produces, distributes, promotes, and supports fundraising opportunities for performance poetry.

Button produces and distributes poetry media, including: video from local and national events, chapbooks, collaborative audio recording, scholarship and criticism, and many other products.”

Performance poetry goes by many names: slam, spoken word, and etcetera. Each genre has its specifics, but any way you look at it, it’s pretty powerful and very touching. Performances are dramatic and sometimes heart-wrenching. It’s all about getting down to the bottom of everything; seeking what is often unseen by the average, social eye. Describing in writhing detail what is wrong, corrupt, and misrepresented in our society and culture today.

Here’s what a few of my students from last year had to say about what they discovered through performance poetry:

“I never knew poetry could be fun.” – Mikayla

“After watching some of the videos in class, I was excited and nervous. I knew we were going to be writing and performing our own spoken word and slam poetry. I didn’t know how my friends would react to what I had to say, but I did it. Everyone was supportive and I didn’t feel ashamed. Writing poetry is like therapy now.” – Rafael

“I was totally not excited for this at all. When you said ‘poetry’, the first thing that came into my mind was a picture of us in dark clothes, snapping along to some miserable words. I didn’t want to watch the videos, but the one about body-shaming really struck with me. I’m naturally skinny and I get teased about it. I was able to get myself out there and tell my friends how I really felt about being called ‘anorexic’ and stuff. It feels good. I’ll probably do it again.” – Bri

If this sounds like something you, or your students, might be interested in, I highly recommend checking it out. If you want to know how I teach poetry, slam, and spoken word in my classroom, send me a message and I’ll send you some of my instructional plans!

Performance poetry is a lot of fun and a lot of work, but it is worth every “aha” moment it creates. Watching students’ eyes light up– breathing the fresh air of confidence– is such a beautiful sight to see.

Click here to go to Button Poetry’s website.

Click here to go to Button Poetry’s YouTube page.

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