March 21 marks World Poetry Day, a day created to celebrate the diversity and beauty of languages, along with celebrating the historical importance of poems. In honor of World Poetry Day, Shout Out UK has created a list of some of their favourite slam poets with a link to their youtube channel and a quick blurb about the poem and poet.
1. Rudy Francisco — ‘Scars/To the New Boyfriend’
Rudy Francisco has been competing in poetry competitions for over five years. He won the National Underground Slam Poetry competition in 2009, and since then continues to win poetry contests worldwide. He writes about first love, breakups and his daily interactions with other people. His words are relatable and extremely moving, with a perfect amount of humour thrown into the mix.
My favourite poem of his is, ‘Scars/To the New Boyfriend,’ about a recent breakup and the emotions he felt when seeing a photograph of his ex on Facebook with another guy. Everyone has experienced the emotions Rudy talks about, and his presentation of the poem makes the situation even more real, and even more emotional. Click the link below to watch Scars/To the New Boyfriend, along with more of Rudy’s slam poetry readings.
2. Kevin Kantor — ‘Unsolicited Advice’
Kevin Kantor is a slam poet who speaks about social issues and social change. He is featured on All Def Poetry, a slam poetry YouTube channel, and talks about his own experience with sexual assault and gay rights. His poems are not happy, but they are his stories, and they are articulated beautifully.
My favourite poem of his is, ‘Unsolicited Advice’, which is about his life experiences. He talks about his relationship with his family, about coming out and about sexual encounters he has had. It’s about life regrets and choices he wishes he could have taken back. It’s a heartbreaking poem, but it also gives insight into social issues people tend to forget about. To watch, Unsolicited Advice, and more poems by Kevin, click the link below.
3. Megan Falley and Olivia Gatwood — ‘Ode to the Selfie’ and ‘Speaks Like a Girl’
Megan Falley and Olivia Gatwood are both specialized gender and sex writers. They write about the stereotypes surrounding gender, especially concerning girls. They recently began an interactive show on feminism, ‘Speak Like a Girl’, which touches upon issues that every girl grows up dealing with, from pressures of living in a hook-up culture to the pressures of body image. Megan and Olivia use their poems to empower young women all over the world. They are witty, and they put a fresh spin on feminism and women’s empowerment.
My two favourite poems of theirs is, ‘Ode to the Selfie,’ and ‘Speaks Like a Girl.’ Ode to the Selfie talks about how people should not be uncomfortable about selfies, and that it is okay for girls to appreciate their appearance. Speak like a girl, talks about what it means to have a feminine voice, and how there should not be a stereotypical feminine speech. To watch these two readings, and many more, press the link to their channel below.
4. Blythe Baird — ‘Girl Code 101’
Blythe Baird was the youngest contestant in the National Poetry Slam in 2015. Since that competition, she published a collection of her work, which was featured in numerous publications, including the Huffington Post. Blythe’s poems also focus on feminism, and what it is like to be a young woman growing up in a hook-up culture. She talks about her eating disorder, about mental health and her experience with guys. Blythe’s poems are heart wrenchingly real, and bring light to taboo subjects that are important to talk about.
My favourite poem of hers is, ‘Girl Code 101′. This is a poem about the power women’s bodies have over men. It talks about catcalls, about dress code and about how men choose to treat a woman’s body. Just like all of Blythe’s work, Girl Code 101 makes you think about the societal norms of today. To watch Blythe’s reading of Girl Code 101, and many more of her poems, click the link below.
5. Harry Baker — ‘Real Men’
Harry Baker was a Grand Slam Poetry Champion. He was also featured on TEDx. Harry’s poems are about his social awkwardness and what it means to be a man. He talks about his crushes and being the awkward kid next door rather than the jock people wanted to date. His poems are hilarious, and the way he articulates himself is amazing.
My favourite poem by Harry Baker is ‘Real Men’. He talks about how it is okay to show emotions. That just because he plays video games and cries does not mean he is not a man. He talks about his physical build; being a scrawny kid with little facial hair, but that no matter what he is, he’s still a real man. This message is important for everyone to hear, and for such a personal topic, Harry does a great job throwing in the jokes. He is funny and it’s great watching him perform his slam poetry. For more poems, and to watch Real Men, click the link below.
Enjoy these poems on World Poetry Day, and remember the importance of language, and the beauty of verse.