slam poetry collections

A word based performance art, poetry slam first began in Chicago in 1984. While American poet Marc Smith can be credited for making the platform open and competitive, the genre has evolved over the years to include a vast range of styles, traditions, customs, and practices that make it equally engaging and innovative. It is an umbrella term for any kind of poetry that is recited aloud. Today, slam poetry is all the rage and it comprises of burgeoning talents who have a special knack for wordplay. A popular form of self-expression amongst teenagers, slam poetry has now reached far and wide. Here are 7 slam poetry collections that deserve a special place in your library.



Desiree Dallagiacomo

A highly anticipated book with raw and hard-hitting poetry, Sink is the debut collection by Desiree Dallagiacomo covering varied topics such as addiction, love, suicide, dementia and self-image. Soulful words and powerful diction aside, this collection is about a journey that deals with post-traumatic stress and moves towards eventual healing. It raises some intriguing questions about family, lineage, and inheritance. It also talks about how one’s identity should be separate from the family we are born into, irrespective of the negativity a broken family might exude. Sink approaches the loss of relations and finding one’s true self from the perspective of what it means to be a woman in this world.

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Lang Leav

Exploring the relationship between love and loss with a musical style of poetry that pulls at the reader’s heartstrings, Lang Leav’s Lullabies is the sequel to her Love And Misadventure. Unique to this book is Leav’s self-effacing style of retelling emotions that makes heart-to-heart connections. Her style focuses on the text in a manner that translates complex emotional messages into simple-toned easily memorisable captions. Oft quoted, Leav’s words have the ability to reach into the minds of her readers thereby making her presence vehemently felt. It is almost as though reading her words can speak to a gazillion souls at once.

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Still Can’t Do My Daughter’s Hair

William Evans

Co-founder of Black Nerd Problems, the website devoted to pop/geek culture from the perspective of people of colour, William Evans is a long-standing voice in the performance poetry space. He has travelled far and wide across the U.S.A. and won several accolades for his work. His latest collection covers topics such as masculinity, fatherhood, family, and what it means to be a black man raising a family in present-day America. Through poems that are both lyrical and personal, Evans paints a poignant picture of growing up as a black man in America. However, don’t be misled by the title. The collection does not solely contain poems about father-daughter relationships. Instead, it focuses more on the pain, anger, and marginalisation young fathers of colour, like him, have felt.

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Milk And Honey

Rupi Kaur

Similar to William Evans, Rupi Kaur’s Milk And Honey is a poetry and prose collection about violence, abuse, love, loss and femininity. A writer and artist based in Toronto, Kaur reached international acclaim through the sublimity in her words that emerge into themes that are constantly seeking to be a self-healing experience. Beautiful and relatable, Milk And Honey is a great introduction to those who have never experienced the joy of reading poetry. Much like the snippets of her poetry being shared over social media, this book is equally captivating and painful at the same time.

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Depression And Other Magic Tricks

Sabrina Benaim

One of the most viewed performance poets of all time, this book is a promising debut by Sabrina Benaim on the themes of mental health, love and family. While this collection can be a bit difficult to decipher initially, it becomes easier to get hooked onto her candid words once you get the hang of her witty and emphatic style. Beyond the wit, one is bound to notice the documentation of her struggles and her triumph over them. Her wondrous style of narration is a true gift that goes on to radiate a charismatic empathy that is both touching and gratifying.

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Lord Of The Butterflies

Andrea Gibson

A nuanced look at gender, romance, loss, and family, Lord Of The Butterflies by Andrea Gibson is both articulate and artful and evokes powerful thoughts in a highly disturbed or distracted mind. It clarifies and charms while simultaneously disproving stereotypes and bashing gender roles. It focuses a lot on queer relationships through an honest and emotional lens. Though candid, this collection may seem slightly morose and grim to readers who do not enjoy dark poems. However, for those who have read and enjoyed The Madness Vase, this is definitely a collection to look forward to.

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Melissa Lozada-Oliva

‘Peluda’ means a hairy beast. While body hair has been the talk of the town for ages, women who are hairy are constantly shamed. This collection challenges societal norms on body hair by being unapologetically self-loving. Focusing on beauty, immigration, alienation, and feminism, Peluda is also a great read for learning more about the experiences of a Latin woman living in America. What is surprising is Melissa Oliva’s unique take on issues that have plagued women for generations and yet show no signs of wearing out.

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tasnima yasmin

In an age of emphatic loquacity, Tasnima Yasmin is a staunch advocate of verbal minimalism with quietude as a reliable companion that is equally reciprocated by her books. She specialises in Modern/Post Modern English Literature and Linguistics. She has a Masters in English Language and Literature from the University of Calcutta. You can connect with her on Facebook.

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