Sabrina Benaim recited her heartbreaking poem “Explaining My Depression to My Mother: A Conversation” at the semis during the 2014 National Poetry Slam. In the poem, she explores the generational gap between herself and her mother and how each side views mental illness. Her well-meaning but clueless mother often doesn’t understand how one day her daughter’s depression could be the size of a pin prick and other days threatens to swallow her whole. With raw emotions and frantic words, Benaim destroys her mother’s ignorant advice that “being happy is a choice” and rips out her soul for all to see in hopes the audience may better understand what life is actually like for those who suffer from a mental illness. Thanks to her brutal poem, Benaim shines a light into the dark recesses of a mind that is constantly grappling with depression and anxiety in the hopes of eradicating the notion that you can fix mental illness by “just trying to be happy.”
|Recommended by Amanda Ferris||Thursday, February 12th, 2015||No Comments »|
Malcolm London’s stirring slam poetry performance at the 2013 TED Talks is a stirring and thoughtful exploration of the hardships of high school. “High School Training Ground” notes that teenagers are supposed to be “building themselves” during this time in their life, but it’s actually building up their insecurities instead.
London points out that the reason why so many teenage girls wear revealing clothing is because they’re pressured into doing so and they feel if they can be praised for their looks, then perhaps it will lessen the voice inside their heads that tells them they’re not “good enough.” He also talks about dealing with bullies, noting that many children from broken homes often act out and that although some of the tormentors can be quite cruel, deep down they are in dire need of a “hug” and a big dose of compassion.
|Recommended by Amanda Ferris||Friday, December 12th, 2014||No Comments »|
Slam poet Kendra Urdang’s performance of her proactive piece “To Every Man Who Never Called Himself a Feminist” calls out the hypocrisy of the patriarchal and incredibly misogynistic society that we live in today. In the poem, Urdang points out that many men (and women) are in denial that “boys next door” could rape women and insist on perpetuating the lies that rapists are scary strangers lurking in dark alleyways for their next victim. Urdang then notes that much of the misogyny in our society stems from the belief that white males are “better” than women. She then calls out all the men who sexually harass women on the street by using slur words and the hypocrisy of their moral politics.
|Recommended by Amanda Ferris||Monday, December 1st, 2014||No Comments »|
Poet Patrick Roche performed 21 at the 2014 College Unions Slam Poetry Invitational, which was held in Princeton University. The poem recounts the death of his father, whose death was due to alcoholism. Roche’s emotional performance highlights the struggle of a young man who should be celebrating his birthday but instead is mourning the death of a parent.
|Recommended by Amanda Ferris||Tuesday, August 12th, 2014||No Comments »|
Performance poet Neil Hilborn wowed the crowd with the performance of his poem “OCD” at the 2013 Rustbelt Regional Poetry Slam. Hilborn’s piece is a fascinating exploration into what life is like as an OCD sufferer. With a biting wit and a dash of charisma, the poet uses humor to allow his audience to see what living with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder is really like.
The example he uses is falling in love—Hilborn explains how he was struck by the curve of her lips and her hair. However, over time, his significant other in the poem grows tired of his mental health issues and breaks up with him, saying that “she shouldn’t have let herself get so attached and their relationship was a mistake.”
|Recommended by Amanda Ferris||Thursday, July 31st, 2014||No Comments »|
Veteran slam poet Rachel Wiley performed her very not-safe-for-work piece “10 Honest Thoughts on Being Loved by a Skinny Boy” at the 2013 National Poetry Slam in Boston. The poem is a heartfelt look at Wiley’s experiences when dating someone who is thinner than she is and the fatphobia that surrounds her relationships. From being on the receiving end of glares from perfect strangers who feel that Wiley doesn’t “deserve” to have a skinny boyfriend to learning to love her body, the poem will touch any man or woman who has ever had self-esteem problems due to society’s obsession with being thin.
With humor and fire in her eyes, Wiley points out that she, and all the other women like her, are more than just numbers on the scale. Just because they are heavier than what society believes is a “healthy weight” does not mean that they are not deserving of love and respect. By the end of “10 Honest Thoughts on Being Loved by a Skinny Boy,“ every viewer will have a new respect for Wiley and a better appreciation for their own bodies—including its flaws.
|Recommended by Amanda Ferris||Wednesday, July 30th, 2014||No Comments »|
Dylan Garity performed his poem “Rigged Game” at the 2013 National Poetry Slam in Boston. In the performance, Garity recounts how his older sister works as an ESL teacher and the efforts her students make in their studies. However, Garity points out the students are stuck in “a sick body,” and due to the No Child Left Behind Act, his sister’s students and others like them are now expected to perform at grade level despite that they’ve only been living in the United States for a year or less. Garity also lashes out against the laws that say his sister can’t teach her students in their native tongue because if the school finds out they can’t speak English, they will lose much-needed funding.
Finally, the young poet adds that his sister’s students should not have to consider their heritage and native language as something “shameful.” Just because he and other white Americans are privileged enough to get a head start in a “rigged game” doesn’t mean that they should also be able to write the rules too. Garity’s Rigged Game is a passionate performance that will help the audience understand why there needs to be education reform, especially for ESL students in America.
|Recommended by Amanda Ferris||Wednesday, July 23rd, 2014||No Comments »|