April is National Poetry Month, so we’re in the mood to wax poetic about how poems can transform the common into the extraordinary. Poetry transmutes deep feelings, beliefs, and experiences into a new reality for the reader, especially when presented in a Poetry Slam. In a poetry slam competition, original spoken word poetry is presented before an audience and judges—and it can get quite energetic and loud! At Writer’s Relief, we’ve decided to pit some of the best poets throughout the ages against each other to create the ultimate poetry slam.
The Ultimate Poetry Slam! Who Will Be Victorious—A Poet From The Past Or Present?
Don a jaunty beret and be ready to snap your fingers in approval—you are the audience and the judge for this epic poetry slam! While the use of language has changed through the centuries, you can still connect with the emotions and messages within these verses.
We’ve kept the identities of our poetic pugilists a secret until the very end so you won’t be swayed by a famous name. Is there a surprise twist ahead that you won’t see coming? Of course there is! Choose your favorites, then crown the ultimate poetry slam winner for National Poetry Month!
We’ve put the best lines from our competitors in chronological order for you:
A: 2200 BCE:
“Oh house wrapped in beams of lights wearing shining stone jewels wakening great awe.”
B: 2200 BCE:
“Sanctuary of pure Inanna where divine powers the true we spread wide….”
C: 630–612 BCE:
“Without warning a whirlwind swoops on an oak, as love shakes my heart.”
D: 750 CE:
“The curve of grouse watering in a flock
They near the pool water in all haste
They stay intoxicated at the springs as
Drinkers dependent on Persian lords”
E: 12th Century:
“I’d like to go boating in a light skiff…but fear the tiny grasshopper boats they have would not carry such a quantity of sorrow.”
F: 15th Century:
“Till the o’erburdened heart, so long imprisoned in itself, found vent and voice in one impassioned song of inconsolable lament.”
G: 17th Century:
“…who can sing thy force? Or…describe the swiftness of thy course? Soaring through air to find the bright abode, the empyreal palace of the thundering God.”
H: 18th Century:
“Hoping to blossom (one day) into a flower, every bud sits, holding its soul in its fist.”
I: 19th Century:
“How do I love thee… I love thee to the depth and breadth and height my soul can reach when feeling out of sight for the end of being and ideal grace.”
J: 20th Century:
“I have fallen a long way. Clouds are flowering. The moon sees nothing of this. She is bald and wild. And the message of the yew tree is blackness—blackness and silence.”
K: 21st Century:
“In the flush of love’s light we dare be brave. And suddenly we see that love costs all we are and will ever be. Yet it is only love which sets us free.”
L: 21st Century:
“You try to dissect my rhymes to see if there’s a pattern. I bounced it all around you like the rings around Saturn. Let me know now if you’d like to protest this proceeding of greeting. Or would you rather progress onto a higher plateau?”
Make your selection and determine the winner of our Poetry Slam through the ages.
Here’s the surprise twist we promised: All the poets are women!
The poets revealed: A: Enheduanna, first known poet (of either gender); B: Enheduanna; C: Sappho; D: Laila Akhyaliwa; E: Li Qingzhao; F: Vittoria Colonna; G: Phyllis Wheatley; H: Mah Laqa Bai; I: Elizabeth Barrett Browning; J: Sylvia Plath; K: Maya Angelou; L: Queen Latifah
Question: What two famous poets—living or dead—would you like to see competing in a poetry slam?